Online video, the first cause of digital pollution

Climate change is certainly one of the most important issues of our time. In order to contain global warming and limit temperature rise to 1.5°C, all sectors of activity must be taken into account. Yet governments and public opinion underestimate the environmental impacts of digital use. According to the latest report published by The Shift Project, digital technology now emits 4% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, more than air transport. Among the causes of this pollution, the main one is related to our over-consumption of online video.



Online video accounts for 20% of all digital GHGs







Widely used, online video is at the heart of digital consumption. In 2018, it thus represents 60% of the world’s data flow. Stored in data centers, it is transmitted over networks to our mobile devices and computers. An operation that requires electricity and most often emits CO2. In total, in 2018, the online video generated 306 million tonnes of CO2 or 20% of total digital greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.


For comparison purposes:

  • 10 hours of high definition film uses more data than all of Wikipedia’s English-language articles in text format.
  • The viewing of online videos in 2018 generated as many greenhouse gas emissions as Spain, or 1% of global emissions.


Online video consumption is divided into 4 categories:


  • VOD, visual content hosted on platforms such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, represents 34% of online video or 7% of digital GHGs.
  • Pornography, visual content hosted on pornographic platforms such as YouPorn or Pornhub, represents 27% of online video or 5% of the GHGs due to digital technology.
  • Tubes, various visual contents and any public hosted on Youtube or Dailymotion platforms, represent 21% of online video or 4% of the GHGs due to digital technology.
  • Others, videos hosted on social media such as Facebook or Instagram, represent 18% of online video or 4% of digital GHGs.



Act individually to limit our online video consumption





It is possible to become more “digitally sober”. All you have to do is watch lower resolution online videos. We can also limit our video consumption by not watching a whole season of our favorite series in one evening, for example! We must also be more selective in our choices and not look at the entire Netflix catalog even if we are not interested in most films!

In a world under climate constraint, we must regulate our consumption of digital data. As with new habits to limit bottles or plastic bags, we need to reduce our time spent on online video platforms.




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Victoria K.
Journaliste chez PlanetHoster
Pour la petite histoire, j’ai été formée au journalisme en France. Ma formation terminée, j’ai travaillé pour la presse WEB avant de me lancer dans le monde audiovisuel où j’ai enquêté et réalisé des documentaires pour la télévision française.