In 2007, for the first time in history, the carbon emissions due to information and communication technologies exceeded that of the entire aviation industry.
This alarming statistic comes from a company’s website aimed at offsetting the carbon footprint of the worldwide web. The company is CO2stats.com, and their argument is that the enormous amounts of electricity required by the servers, clients, and networks which make up the web are contributing to climate change. To help make a website carbon neutral, they monitor its energy usage and purchase the appropriate amount of renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset it.
While I think CO2stats is offering a great service by selling Green tags, we still end up debating the issue of additionality. If a person is truly serious about reducing their website’s carbon footprint, why not use an environmentally-friendly hosting service like AISO.net? They actually have solar panels powering their equipment and have been powering A-RSolar.com for almost a year now.
Since electricity is produced in large part by burning fossil fuels, there’s little doubt the IT industry will become a new target in the war on climate change. Additionally, the statistics put forth by CO2stats are further evidence of the importance and urgency of using solar energy to power our world. I think CO2stats.com deserves praise for offering a green service and publicizing the issue of IT emissions. However, I would prefer to see more solar or wind-powered hosting sites begin popping up on the web’s radar.