Report Claims The Way We Use Our Phones Can Impact Climate Change
Low-quality streaming and out-of-date iPhones are the definition of first-world problems, but it turns out that putting up with them could actually help combat climate change.
A new report says that the way we use digital technology affects our own individual carbon footprint, and claims that by making small sacrifices in the way we use our devices, we can actually make a difference in the fight to save the planet.
We’re all so used to 1080p and 4K displays now that anything less seems virtually unwatchable, but scientists from the Royal Society say that this relatively small change could actually help reduce the footprint of streaming services by as much as 5%. For comparison, that’s the same amount of emissions as would be saved if YouTube switched entirely to renewable energy.
The report states that streaming videos in HD contributes about eight times more carbon emissions than watching in standard definition, and have even urged companies to limit the HD functionality on phones.
It also says that the modern trend of constantly upgrading our phones each year is also damaging the environment, with manufacturing methods still heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Apparently, by switching out your phone every four years, instead of the average two years we currently hold onto our devices for, the carbon cost of manufacturing phones could be halved.
Many major tech companies have pledged to improve their eco-credentials in recent years, with Apple recently claiming that removing wall charger plugs from its new iPhone packaging was designed to reduce its own manufacturing emissions. However, the report says that Big Tech needs to be more transparent about the impact of their products on the environment.
Cambridge University Professor Andy Hopper, who lead the study, told BBC News:
There are many routes to net zero [carbon emissions], but digital technology has a central role to play.
We must stay alert to digital demand outpacing the carbon emission reductions this transition promises.
Realistically, these small changes to our habits don’t make a massive difference on their own, with major industry still the main culprit when it comes to global emissions. But as well-known supermarket once said, every little helps.
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