It’s official: five-minute call has same carbon footprint as boiling a cuppa
Have you every wondered what the carbon emissions are for making a call or sending an email?
Well, you don’t need to anymore. It’s official: making a five-minute call is the carbon-equivalent of boiling water for one cup of tea.
How do we know this?
Because today, O2 said it had become the first mobile network operator to get the carbon emissions of its voice and data services certified by the Carbon Trust. The verification has revealed that the carbon footprint of making a one-minute voice call on the O2 network is 3.6 grams of CO2 equivalent, while transferring one megabyte of data is equivalent of 11 grams of CO2.
This may seem like a bit of trivia, but set against the rapidly growing carbon footprint of the ICT industry, this sort of analysis takes on a new meaning.
Globally, the ICT industry is estimated to account for between two and two and half per cent of global carbon emissions. That’s a hell of lot of cups of tea. And our insatiable appetite for mobile phones, tablets and using the internet means it’s rising relentlessly (it will overtake the airline industry soon, if it hasn’t already done so).
Compounding the problem is how little action the ICT industry has taken to mitigate against this rise.
Partly because its been let off the hook, because consumer awareness is lower when it comes to the environmental impact of ICT technology compared to other goods and services.
That is starting to change.
O2 has begun to play its part, launching its Think Big Blueprint sustainability plan in February, which pledges to halve the carbon emissions from its network and deliver CO2 reductions for its customers that are 10 times greater than its own footprint over the next three years.
The mobile phone and services operator says it see its role as “a leader in making people more aware” of the environmental impact of mobile networks – although why it’s not done more before now has to be questioned.
O2 is not the only one taking action. Apple, which has been heavily criticised by green groups for not addressing its environmental impact, yesterday announced it plans to power its main data centre in North Carolina, entirely with renewable energy by the end of this year.
Others are cleaning up their act too. Facebook, which was targeted last year by Greenpeace for using coal to power its data farms, is building a new centre in Sweden, to be powered by hydroelectricity, while Google has set up its own energy division to source green power, including wind.
There’s still a long way to go, of course, but change, it seems, is finally afoot.