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If the internet were a country, it'd be the 7th most polluting.
In the past 10 years alone, websites have grown 320% heavier.
We studied the carbon footprint of the internet's top 500 websites.
Our analysis shows that 40% of these websites generate significantly more than the global average of 0.5g CO2 per page load — some up to a whopping 16g.
Compounded by millions or billions of visitors, they unnecessarily generate about 234,342,373kg (515M pounds) CO2 every single year.
This is the same as a gas car driving around the Earth 23 million times.
We'd need around 4 billion trees growing for 10 years to absorb this amount.
There are plenty of ways to reduce a website's emissions.
For example, if all the analyzed websites were using a green host, the overall emissions would be 76.15% lower. That's a HUGE reduction with relatively little effort.
However, most companies choose profit over the planet.
These CO2 emissions were estimated with BACKSPACE, a carbon analytics platform for websites.
If this is the first time you're hearing about the internet's CO2 emissions, here's a quick primer: a website's energy consumption and subsequent CO2 emissions are calculated based on how much data was transferred in a visit, and the energy source the hosting provider uses. You can learn more about how BACKSPACE calculates these and on this excellent write-up.
This estimation was performed on Feburary 21st, 2023. We ran our engine 5 times and used the resulting average.
Users might visit multiple pages during a session. Due to the complexity of analyzing all the pages/interactions on a website, the estimation is based on the homepage alone.
Elements that require user interaction to load, such as videos, search results, etcetera, are highly impactful to the result — but not accounted in this estimation. This also means that these results likely underestimate reality.
Pages were automatically scrolled 5 times, to ensure that websites that load content dynamically as the user scrolls are accounted for.
This estimation was done from Europe. Some websites have geographical restrictions and might generate more or less emissions if visited in your location.
CO₂ emissions estimated with BACKSPACE.eco
Green domains obtained from The Green Web Foundation
Traffic information obtained from SimilarWeb (January, 2023)
Internet electricity consumption
Average website carbon emissions
How BACKSPACE calculates a website's emissions