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Environmental impact of the internet in France - statistics & facts

With the internet penetration rate through computer, tablet and mobile phone via WiFi, mobile or fixed broadband reaching more than 57 percent in 2019, PCs and tablet make up a strong share of the total energy consumed in 2018, which amounted to more than 35 thousand gigawatt per hour.
When communication, transmissions and information gathering takes place online, the impacts of digital pollution are often not visible, but the environmental costs of electronic production and virtual data storage, are real nonetheless.

Website and app emissions

The green industry is profiting from digitalization, with growing second-hand commerce and sharing economy platforms such as or Airbnb. These might help reduce the carbon impact of fashion consumption and tourism, but the use of these websites and apps is still leaving a carbon trace. Thus, a minute’s use of the app produces about 0.4 gram of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent for every user, and Airbnb's energy consumption reaches 6.12 milliampere hour while reading customer ratings. was by far the least eco-friendly app in 2020, emitting as much as 5.71 gram of CO2 equivalent.
As people tend to spend a lot of time on shopping apps, the high engagement rate of social media apps produces the same effect. TikTok, for example, emitted about 4.93 grams of CO2 equivalent per minute, whereas YouTube and Facebook found themselves on the lower spectrum of CO2 equivalent emissions.
For public service platforms, the level of CO2 equivalent was lower on average, with the website of the city of Nice releasing the most, at 2.77.

User opinion

In recent years, French people have become aware of the need to limit their digital footprint. While some are ready to buy second-hand technology, contributing to the growing resale market in France, about 69 percent of connected users are ready to change the amount of technology usage. Most people are taking small steps, regularly emptying their mailboxes to minimize the amount of data storage, buying energy efficient appliances or recycled computer equipment.
Nevertheless, consumers do believe that digitalization could aid in reducing environmental impacts of other industries in the future. While it helps spread awareness and inform about good environmental practices, it will develop the circular economy even further.


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