Your Netflix binge habit comes at a hefty cost to environment

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Experts say the ease of streaming services comes with a hefty environmental price tag as watching a half-hour show would lead to emissions of 1.6 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Movie nights once required driving to the local video store to rent, rewind and return the latest blockbuster. Now on-demand video content providers offer countless binge-worthy options at the touch of a finger.

But experts say the ease of streaming services comes with a hefty environmental price tag. Watching a half-hour show would lead to emissions of 1.6 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, said Maxime Efoui-Hess of French think tank the Shift Project. That’s equivalent to driving 6.28km.

Last year, online video streaming produced emissions equivalent to Spain and that amount may double in the next six years, according to the Shift Project. While most of the online traffic – 34%- is related to streaming videos, on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, for example, the next biggest sector is online porn.

“Digital videos come in very large file sizes and (are) getting bigger with each new generation of higher definition video,” said Gary Cook of Greenpeace, which monitors the IT sector’s energy footprint.

“More data equals more energy needed to maintain a system that is ready to stream this video to your device at a moment’s notice,” Cook told AFP. Much of the energy needed for streaming services is consumed by the data centre, which delivers data to your computer or device, explained Cook.

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