By 2030, the internet could be responsible for almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions:
more thought must be given to the dual role of technology as a solution and potential contributor to its worst effects.
A report from some five years ago looked at how much energy we are wasting – which suggests that today we are wasting even more:
NRDC: Home Idle Load – Devices Wasting Huge Amounts of Electricity When Not in Active Use (PDF)
John Harris made the same point two years ago:
The energy used in our digital consumption is set to have a bigger impact on global warming than the entire aviation industry…
Our phones and gadgets are now endangering the planet | Climate change | The Guardian
Here’s a very simple solution:
Stamp out standby
This one’s simple: turn it off. Increase the lifespan of your gadgets, reduce your carbon footprint, and cut your electricity bills, just by stamping out standby.
UK households spend between 9% and 16% of their annual electricity bills on ‘standby’ energy, costing each household £50 to £86 a year.1 By switching off appliances at the socket you can sleep better knowing you’re saving money and energy, little bit by bit.
Unplugged – Stamp out standby – Do Nation
With a handy guide here:
Easy ways to break the standby habit: save on your energy bills
And, yes, it’s going to save you money:
Why you shouldn’t leave devices on standby mode | money.co.uk
Is a smart plug the answer? It depends:
How Much Energy Do Smart Plugs Use? (Simple Answer!) | The WiredShopper
Another answer could be ‘The Internet of Things’:
A better understanding of how our homes operate, and the ability to tweak those settings, could help save energy — by cutting heating costs, for example.
What is the IoT? Everything you need to know about the Internet of Things right now | ZDNet.
And then there is the internet of waste – where technology might indeed be able to help solve the problems it’s created:
By 2030, the internet could be responsible for almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. If we are to reach our ambitions for a greener, more digitalised European economy, policymakers and the tech sector will have work together to better understand and mitigate the unique sustainability challenges of the internet and emerging technologies like IoT and AI. As governments across the globe are beginning to reckon with the looming climate emergency and prepare far-reaching environmental legislation, such as the European Green Deal, more thought must be given to the dual role of technology as a solution and potential contributor to its worst effects.
There are also ‘green deal’ initiatives happening in the UK:
Home – The Green New Deal Group
Green New Deal | New Economics Foundation
With an interesting look at the challenges to such initiatives:
Constructing the Green New Deal – Pros and Cons – Thunderbolt Pipeline
There are of course a lot of things we can do as individuals and in households:
120 Ways to save and conserve energy | OVO Energy
But perhaps it’s easier if we are connected with a community of others taking similar action:
Do Nation – make a pledge or run a campaign to raise pledges towards healthy, environmentally friendly habits