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The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, according to some estimates. It is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry globally… And these emissions are predicted to double by 2025.

—BBC Future (2020)[1]

Operating sustainably and minimising our impact on the environment are increasingly recognised as vital responsibilities of governments, organisations and individuals in the “real” world. However, these are rarely mentioned in discussions about digital citizenship. Yet, as the quotation above from the BBC indicates, the use of digital devices and the internet make a significant contribution to global carbon emissions.


Audio: Data deluge - the environmental cost of going online

Listen to Data deluge – the environmental cost of going online, a 17-minute interview on Radio New Zealand with Dr. Rabih Bashroush, Global Head, IT Infrastructure Advisory at Uptime Institute and faculty member at the University of East London.

What surprised you in this interview? Post a comment on WENotes.

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Read the following two articles:

Like the audio, these readings describe the growing emissions impact of device and data use. Each focuses on different aspects of the problem, and puts a different emphasis on the role that individuals have to play in finding solutions compared with the companies that provide digital services.


Discussion forum

  1. What is one practical change you personally could make in your digital habits which would reduce your carbon emissions?
    • What impacts might this change have on you, e.g. in terms of connectedness, time, money or convenience?
    • What is your rough estimate of how many grams or kilograms of CO2 this change would save a year?
  2. How should the responsibility for reducing carbon emissions from data be shared between individuals and data corporations?

Post brief answers to thse questions in the discussion forum.

Remember to tag your post with the course code (LIDA102) and respond to one or two posts from other learners.


  1. Why your internet habits are not as clean as you think, by Sarah Griffiths on the BBC website, 6 March 2020