Your Netflix habit has an environmental impact, but the programme can continue.


According to a report endorsed by the industry, the environmental impact of streaming is less than some previous projections. Based on a user in Europe, every hour of streaming generates around 55 grammes of carbon dioxide into the environment, according to the study.

The findings are positive for researchers — and good news for streamers like Netflix Inc., which helped fund the research — since they suggest that streaming has a less carbon footprint than previously thought. The study also highlighted strategies for entertainment companies to reduce the emissions produced by their products.

The film and television industry, like most others, is racing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in order to help prevent the worst effects of climate change. While streaming a show has a lower environmental impact than, say, producing a new film, businesses are searching for ways to increase sustainability in whatever way they can.

Andie Stephens, primary author of the white paper and associate director of the Carbon Trust, said, “There was a lot of ignorance and confusion regarding the carbon cost of video streaming.” “As a result, we sought to put this in context and contribute to a better understanding of the impact of video streaming.”

Based on a user in Europe, every hour of streaming generates around 55 grammes of carbon dioxide into the environment, according to the study. About half of the emissions are caused by the equipment itself, with larger and older equipment causing the most damage to the environment. The remaining emissions come from data centres, which are centralised hubs where internet data is processed and stored, as well as a variety of other sources.

Dimpact, a consortium made up of media businesses and researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, has been trying to figure out how harmful streaming is for the environment. The Bristol researchers produced a carbon calculator in March, which showed that an hour of streaming released less than 100 grammes of CO2 equivalent, which was similar to the new findings.

According to Emma Stewart, Netflix’s head of sustainability, the latest report “validates the work that we had done.”

Netflix, on the other hand, wants to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022, which implies it’ll offset any emissions it can’t eradicate by then. The physical generation of new content accounts for about half of Netflix’s emissions, while corporate activities account for the other half.

Although Stewart said they may push partners to produce cleaner products and customers to convert to so-called green tariffs, which add more renewable electricity to the grid, the business does not include its customers’ web use in its carbon footprint calculation.