“Digital technology is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions,” F. Bordage

What is a file Green IT ?

Frederick Buridge: The term Green ITLiterally, “digital green,” it appeared in 2007. It originally referred to an IT departments approach that aimed to reduce the environmental footprint of the information system in their organizations. Today, it is accepted that we cannot advance on the environmental side if we exclude the social and economic dimensions. The Green IT Therefore, it aims to reduce the digital footprint in these three dimensions.

What is the impact of digital technology today on the environment?

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Its environmental consequences are difficult for users to understand because the semantics attached to it make it abstract. We are in the “cloud”, everything feels light and airy. We estimate that it is nonetheless responsible for around 4% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 3.2% in France. Computers, smartphones and tablets use non-renewable resources – such as rare metals like tantalum and indium – whose reserves will be depleted in two human generations.

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The problem today also lies in the very rapid growth of digital technology. Between 2010 and 2025, its environmental impact must triple, reaching 6% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This effect is exponential if we add connected objects: from a billion in 2010, it will increase to 48 billion in 2025, or about 50 times more in 15 years. Since digital technology is a non-renewable resource, this endless growth is impossible. It is imperative to prepare today for the world of tomorrow, which will inevitably be more Low tech.

Do you see progress on this topic within companies?

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More and more of them are considering reducing their digital footprint and encouraging good practices: extending the life of computers, changing central units rather than screens, and acquiring refurbished used equipment. All large companies now have a re-employment strategy. Because the key is really to use less equipment and make it last longer. By thinking of “reuse”, we gain new reactions such as buying more powerful equipment than we originally planned. Thus, its remaining use value will allow resale to the refurbished. Then the reuse brings in more than its costs and we divide the environmental impact of digital technology by 2. A reused computer is one that has not been manufactured. However, it is this manufacturing that has the most greenhouse effect: nearly 80% of digital greenhouse gas emissions are generated by manufacturing computers and monitors.

How to develop manufacturers?

We have partnered, with the Ministry of Environmental Transformation, on a new “digital and environmental” roadmap that allows for discussions with manufacturers. In particular, they should be encouraged to develop stereotypes. For example, batteries are no longer soldered to computers; Wearing parts is easier to change. We already have an operational legislative package with an environmental design directive and a “batteries” directive even if it has a defect – we’ll have to make the battery removable. The “Fixability” index, which went into effect on January 1, 2021, offers a score of 10 for smartphones, televisions, and laptops. We are anxiously waiting for it to develop into a sustainability index on January 1, 2024. On home appliances, the Energy Meter has ended up having an impact. The sustainability index is in our opinion the best carrot to motivate manufacturers to come forward as it will be discriminatory.

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Where do you start when a company decides to become responsible digitally?

By training with recognized experts, so you don’t embark on the wrong paths. An audit to identify sources of impact makes it possible to focus on the solutions that will have the greatest impact. Among the easiest measures to implement, you could prefer recycled paper, change the type of electricity, and avoid providing employees with a second 24-inch screen that significantly degrades the environmental footprint. The eco-design of digital services has also become a strategic issue. For example, the lighter the site, the less impact it has on the environment, and the lower the cost to operate. And if we plan to use reused materials, it makes sense to dilute services and content.


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