FEED Autumn 2022 Web


Professor Chris Preist researches the environmental sustainability impact of digital technology. In addition to assessing the energy and resources it consumes, he also seeks to understand how these innovations impact our behaviours on a wider scale. Professor Preist talked to FEED for our first climate crisis special in February 2020: “Research is often thinking about disruptions... we need to consider how to drive efficiency at a systemic level. It requires a certain amount of R&D by progressive companies.” l Read the full piece featuring Professor Preist here: online.bright- publishing.com/view/83562448/24 BRINGING SCIENCE TO THE PARTY

is already constantly scaled for peak usage. You can switch off your television to save power, but everything up to your front door is always running, regardless.” Robinson notes that there are a number of problems with how digital businesses calculate efficiency and power consumption. One of the biggest is analysing numbers based on how much the viewer is using the service, rather than how much the service itself is actually consuming. It’s a fallacy akin to only counting the power consumption of a burning light bulb when you’re actually in the room. “This allows you to declare net zero because the problem is put into the consumer’s hands. They might be thinking: ‘I only use my router for Netflix,’ so they believe they’re saving energy – but the Netflix service is sitting there burning around the clock, all the time. It takes as much energy to send zeros as it does to send a combination of zeros and ones. If a broadcaster claims it is net zero and the rest is in the consumer’s hands, that’s greenwashing. “When you hear a company saying: ‘We’re using 10% less bandwidth, so its 10% greener,’ it’s a lie. They may be trying to do the right thing, but they’re deceiving themselves.”

The goal of Greening of Streaming is to confront the industry with the facts, in order to create faster – and more intelligent – emissions reduction. Early results are promising, as it has already helped certain members shift how they crunch numbers. One member company that was proud of its green credentials realised it was actually way off. “Intentions were good,” says Curwin. “But even better is that it acknowledged what it was saying wasn’t right, has really taken it on the chin and completely changed. For us, that is a win. It has also been one of our most vociferous supporters.” Greening of Streaming is headquartered in the UK, and the parliament launch event was its first major interaction with government. But the organisation is international in its membership and mission. Presentations to the EU are in the works, and engagement with US government will hopefully follow. “We need to have joined-up thinking – you can’t work completely independently. In fact, that makes the problem worse. We want to do the right thing and are keen to talk to similar organisations.”


Powered by