Large-scale website operators are being urged to throw their weight behind a sustainability initiative geared towards curbing the carbon emissions generated by the internet.
The Eco-Friendly Web Alliance (EFWA) has set its sights on preventing a further 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide being added to the atmosphere in the next decade by supporting website operators with cutting the emissions their sites produce.
As part of this effort, the EFWA has created what it claims to be the world’s first eco-standard, which will be awarded to websites that emit less than one gram of carbon dioxide per page view.
To retain the accreditation, website owners and operators will be expected to participate in quarterly audits to assess how much carbon their sites use, and will be further expected to provide proof that they are “being kind to the planet”, the EFWA said.
The organization has also produced a free-to-use calculator that allows businesses to check how much carbon their websites emit, and offers them advice on how to optimize their sites and lower their emissions.
“This optimization is about keeping the webpage weight low by compressing images, using images of the right size, not enabling videos of moving images to play automatically and taking steps to reduce unnecessary bloat,” the organization said, in a statement.
It further claims that if all of the 1.92 billion websites currently hosted on the internet took such actions, it would be a “significant step” for society on the road to net-zero.
According to the Alliance’s own calculations, the average website generates more than two grams of carbon dioxide, and getting 10 million websites to participate in its initiative could cut the average amount of carbon generated by the internet by 50kg a year. On this basis, the EFWA said its goal is to stop 500,000 tonnes of carbon being generated by the internet by 2030.
Participating businesses will also have opportunities to be paired up with “climate-positive” and renewably powered web hosting firms, for example, to make their overall operations even greener.
EFWA chair Shane Herath said all these actions have the potential to “significantly” add to the global effort to arrest the pace of climate change.
“We tend to think of the internet as clean as there is no residue or visible emissions – but the servers that host all that data, including websites, produce huge amounts of emissions, leaving giant carbon footprints behind,” said Herath. “If you have a website which generates thousands of monthly page views, reducing the amount of energy consumed with each click can actually make a significant difference in lowering carbon emissions.”
Particularly as the global economy and society as a whole become increasing digitised, added Herath.
“The internet accounts for 10% of the world’s electricity consumption,” he said. “With life becoming more digitized all the time, and with developing countries catching up when it comes to internet use, consumption levels are going up.
“Organizations have a choice: they can make their website eco-friendly by producing less than one gram of CO2 per page view, and they can even have climate positive websites by switching to green energy and taking responsibility for their reduced annual emissions through rewilding, reforestation or regenerative farming.”