Netflix is ​​taking measures to better respect the environment … but forgets an essential point

Netflix is ​​setting up its Net Zero + Nature program, as announced on its official website, so as to achieve carbon neutrality by the end of 2022. It ensures that half of these greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to the production of its content. And it promises to reduce its direct and indirect emissions by 45% by 2030. For the rest, it will compensate by investing in sites that allow carbon capture, such as tropical forests or in the regeneration of systems such as the restoration of meadows and mangroves.

The American giant is proud to have consulted more than 60 independent experts and is committed to respecting various commitments, including those of the Paris Climate Agreement. The efforts therefore seem substantial. Except that there is a small detail that bothers in this beautiful demonstration.

Who is responsible for streaming?

While Netflix does take into account its own use of networks to host its content in the cloud and distribute it with Open Connect, it excludes the streaming of subscribers from its scope. “We do not include broadcasts from Internet transmission or electronic devices that our members use to watch Netflix”, can we read in the blog post. Netflix shifts this responsibility to ISPs and device manufacturers. “It is ideally for them to take these emissions into account”. It’s a bit as if Apple only considered the manufacturing and delivery part of its iPhones while ignoring the rest of the life cycle of its devices.

For Frédéric Bordage, expert in the Green IT community, Netflix’s calculation would not comply with the ISO 14040: 2006 standard.

This standard is the only internationally recognized methodology for quantifying environmental impacts. He enjoins us to take into account all the impacts, from start to finish, associated with carrying out the act “Watch a film in streaming” “. This means not only taking into account the impact of streaming but also that of televisions.

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The use of video is growing exponentially

In addition, should it be remembered that Netflix has more than 200 million subscribers in the world at its service? That he alone is responsible for a third of Internet traffic in the United States and a quarter in France? This is already huge, but it is expected to increase further in the coming years, as with other platforms. Cisco has predicted that by 2021, video will represent 80% of total internet traffic. It already contributes to the 30% annual increase in mobile traffic.

Until then, the digital footprint was mainly due to the manufacture of terminals. But this exponential growth of video could change the situation: the share of networks in greenhouse gas emissions will increase. To be truly responsible, Netflix will have to take into account these upcoming upheavals and all of its external carbon emissions.

Source: Netflix

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