So it turns out your Netflix addiction is actually pretty bad for the environment
There is nothing left to enjoy in this world
Just when you thought that you were getting to grips with how to do better for the environment, it looks like your Netflix addiction is another thing you can add to list of things that are actually bad for the world.
Netflix has just released some stats on its carbon footprint, stating that most of it comes from huge-scale production shows like The Crown and Bridgerton, which we are all guilty of lapping up without a second thought.
So, how bad is your addiction to Netflix for the environment? Here’s a breakdown of Netflix’s new stats, its pledges to go carbon neutral and what all this means to the everyday viewer.
So, how bad is Netflix for the environment really?
For the first time, Netflix has revealed data about its carbon footprint. Netflix announced it released as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere last year as 2.7billion miles of car travel. So yes, it’s a lot.
Netflix’s head of sustainability, Emma Stewart, said in a statement earlier this week that it put out 1.1million metric tonnes of carbon in 2020, which is about equal to, or more than, the output of entire small countries such as Djibouti (1.5m tonnes), the Solomon Islands (900,000 tonnes) and Cabo Verde (800,000 tonnes). Roughly half of that footprint was generated by the physical production of Netflix-branded films and series, whether they be managed directly by Netflix, or through a third-party production company.
The remainder (45 per cent) comes from Netflix’s corporate operations (like the offices it leases) and purchased goods (like its marketing spend). Cloud providers used to stream also account for five per cent of its footprint.
This transparency comes as Netflix announced it aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022, and every year thereafter. It added that it had joined a research effort called DIMPACT that is establishing consensus on how to measure the footprint of streaming and other internet uses.
Netflix will achieve net zero emissions by the end of 2022, with a plan to reduce, retain and remove carbon in concert with nature. Read about our climate commitment: https://t.co/twZ26HxWPX
— We Are Netflix (@WeAreNetflix) March 30, 2021
Researchers at the University of Bristol have created the project, which challenges 13 of the world’s biggest media companies to report and reduce their emissions. It claims increased consumption of digital services – advertising, publishing, broadcasting –is leading to an increase in the energy use and carbon footprint of the digital media sector.
The project aims to develop an online tool that takes the complexity out of calculating the carbon emissions. Among the companies taking part alongside Netflix are BBC, BT, Channel 4, Sky and ITV. Netflix said its primary aim is to offset its omissions, by funding projects to re-grow tropical forests, mangrove swamps and other ecosystems that remove and store CO2 from the atmosphere.
If you’re wondering what all these stats mean in real life terms, Netflix’s emissions are about equivalent to one year’s energy use for 126,933 homes or one year’s driving for 237,648 cars, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Netflix chief executive, Reed Hastings, told Financial Times: “The majority of our footprint is producing shows like The Crown. Our imprint is actually creating our content, building sets, moving people around to be able to produce a series or film. The thing that you think of, like the office or [Amazon’s cloud computing service], is pretty darn small.”
What does all this mean for a viewer then?
Netflix makes it very clear that it does not include emissions from internet transmission or electronic devices members use to watch, in its figures.
It claims that one hour of streaming on the platform in 2020 used less than 100gCO2e (a hundred grams of carbon dioxide equivalent) – that’s less than driving an average car a quarter of a mile. Which might sound like not a lot, but it still means that watching Netflix for just an hour, which seems like something that should effect the environment little to none, is actually like driving a car – albeit for a very small amount of time.
And, Netflix only creates these huge-scale production shows because the demand is there for them, which comes from the viewer. So there really is nothing sacred in the world, because absolutely everything we do has an effect on the environment. Add that to the list including online shopping, drinking milk, eating certain foods and probably just existing. Fabulous.
However, Netflix also announced that in 2020, 160 million households tuned into at least one documentary or show about environmental issues. So at least we’re trying.
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