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understanding what is digital carbon footprint

7 Articles: What is a digital carbon footprint?

In Climate, Moments by Scott

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What is a Digital Carbon Footprint?

The conversation around the environmental impact of our digital lives is rapidly growing. For many though, the fact that digital has a carbon footprint is a new concept. Given my previous work in the area, I was honoured to be asked by the Open University to write a series of articles to explore the concept from the initial "what is a digital carbon footprint" through to practical tips on how to manage it.

What is a "digital carbon footprint"?

By now most of us are aware of the concept of a carbon footprint, but the term digital carbon footprint might still be a new concept.

When compared with their traditional alternatives digital technologies, such as email (vs paper letters), video calls (vs traveling to meetings) and streaming video (vs DVDs or cinemas) seem to be a much better choice for the environment.

Indeed, they are often less impactful in terms of their individual contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. However, since our use of digital technologies continues to grow at an exponential rate, those smaller impacts are also rapidly accelerating.

The Open University

During the summer of 2022 I was delighted to produce a report with Jisc entitled Exploring Digital Carbon Footprints. This report was distributed to education and academic leaders across all the UK's universities and colleges.

The intention of the report was to raise the topic and begin deeper, broader discussions that help us collectively understand that digital is not carbon free, and that there are a range of actions we can all take to help curb, reduce and even remove our digital carbon footprints.

And, boy, did we hit the mark! The conversation has definitely hit a new level.

With that in mind, I was incredibly honoured to be asked to support the Open University in creating a series of articles to explore the document's key themes in more detail.

7 Articles Exploring Digital Carbon Footprints:

In this series of articles I look to answer the primary question of what is a digital carbon footprint, along with why digital carbon footprints are important and what we can do as individuals and organisations to tackle digital carbon emissions. I also look at the rise of eco-anxiety and how this relates to both remote work and the fight against digital carbon footprints.

Explore these articles to learn more.

  1. What is a digital carbon footprint? Read this article to understand more on the topic, including why digital carbon footprints are important for us to understand.
  2. Reducing the digital carbon footprint of the Cloud. Of all the digital technologies, Cloud seems to be considered an even lower impact. Find out why and what can be done, here
  3. Reducing the carbon footprint of on-premises IT. Where will you find carbon emissions in your on-premises IT equipment and what can be done to reduce it? Find out more, here.
  4. How we can all tackle our digital carbon footprint? What steps can each of us take to reduce our individual digital carbon footprints?Read the article here on The Open University's OpenLearn
  5. Reducing digital carbon footprint through responsible procurement. 80% of the digital carbon footprint is embodied in the products and services we use. What is the role of procurement in reducing digital carbon footprints? Read my article on this topic on The Open University's OpenLearn
  6. Digital carbon footprints and remote working. In this article I look at remote worker's contributions to an organisaiton's digital carbon footprint, and how this is related to the worrying rise in eco-anxiety. Find out more, along with some ideas on how to deal with it.
  7. How can corporations reduce digital carbon footprints? Discover how corporations of all sizes can act to reduce digital carbon footprints.
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This content is produced in association with
The Open University

The Open University is a global leader in higher education able to reach every adult in the United Kingdom - and many others across the world.

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Scott is an Independent Technology Analyst, Content Writer and Connector of interesting people. Scott is a technologist at heart, with a history of technology innovation and marketing leadership roles. As the founder of this website and several other businesses, he is passionate about helping technology companies communicate their relevance and awesomeness in a way that engages and excites everybody. Get in touch with Scott here or connect with him on LinkedIn. Learn Scott's tips for content marketing, download his free template here..