Digital Industry: what are the environmental impacts?

  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. Post

According to recent research from Nature, CO2 emissions from the digital industry will grow exponentially by 775% by 2040, from 1.6% in 2017 to 14%. Among the leading causes of the increase in the impact, the study identifies technologies such as artificial intelligence, which requires large amounts of energy to process complex calculations, and the problem of disposal of technological devices.

CO2 emissions generated by the digital industry are a topic of growing concern due to the expansion of digital technologies and their increasing impact on the environment.

Cosa inquina maggiormente?

The main polluters in the digital environment are data centers, i.e., the platforms through which data are stored and processed. Data centers are critical infrastructures for the digital industry for storing, processing, and distributing data. However, running and keeping servers cool requires vast amounts of energy. This energy consumption can lead to significant CO2 emissions, especially if the power comes from fossil sources such as coal. Major cloud service operators are investing in improving efficiency and sustainability with renewable energy sources to reduce the environmental impact of data centers.

Network infrastructures, such as routers and switches, also require energy to operate and maintain an Internet connection. Although the energy consumption of a single network device is relatively low, when multiplied by the number of devices in use and the volume of data transferred, it can contribute significantly to overall emissions.

Furthermore, the manufacture of digital devices, such as computers, smartphones, and other connected devices, requires the extraction and processing of natural resources and industrial processes that can generate CO2 emissions. In addition, transporting materials and finished products can further contribute to emissions.

If the digital sector were a nation, it would rank fifth among the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitters, contributing 3.8 percent of total emissions.

To address the evolving climate change challenge, new policies and strategies are needed.