The volume of internet data continues to grow rapidly – including CO2 emissions

The volume of internet data continues to grow rapidly - including CO2 emissions

Internet surfers in Germany consume much more data than before. Last year, an estimated 100 billion gigabytes were transmitted in the fixed network, thus 19 billion gigabytes more than 2020, according to a report by the Federal Network Agency, available to DPA. In 2019 it was still 60 billion gigabytes.

The reason for the increase is the increased use of digital applications in daily life. In addition, many services require more data, such as portals with especially HD movies or virtual reality applications. In 2021, each fixed broadband connection represented an average data volume of 226 GB per month. In 2020, it was still about 175 GB per connection and month.

In addition, due to the ongoing epidemic, video conferencing in Germany, which some schools also sometimes used last year for distance learning – this was particularly unproductive for poor families.

The researchers examined carbon dioxide emissions from cloud services and found significant differences in energy and resource requirements. For example, while data centers have only had a small share of the greenhouse gas emissions in video conferencing, the lion’s share was due to the device and router used in each case. There were also differences in the use of laptops and desktop computers.

In order to save carbon dioxide, one study recommends deactivating the camera for video conferencing and choosing a lower resolution for video streaming for series and movies. On the other hand, there is a trip to the office and reduced emissions in the production and sale of data carriers for home cinema or cinema operation and visiting including travel.

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According to the researchers, there are significantly higher CO2 emissions when streaming music than when producing sound carriers, including the production of essential plastics. Carbon dioxide emissions are much higher than in earlier times – even compared to the booms in vinyl and CD sales.


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