The climate crisis is at a point where if we do not act, it will be too late. We have set ambitious goals for reducing carbon emissions at all levels of society, but we are not using the data we have to change behaviour.
Now is the age of big data – we generate vast amounts of data and collect more data than we could ever use! We know that showing people data can change their behaviour. Recently in the UK, large restaurant chains have started to publish calorie count data on their menus, and customers have started to order lower-calorie items. This is particularly true for customers who previously chose the highest calorie items.
The same applies to businesses, in the UK sugar has been removed from drinks based on new tax rules. No business wants a customer to be thinking about how unhealthy their products are.
Can website carbon footprint data influence behaviour?
The internet is responsible for nearly 4% of global carbon emissions. We are not going to stop building software and websites, so to meet this challenge we need to work on sustainable website design and use data throughout the lifecycle of a sustainable website.
We are not making use of one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to decarbonize the internet: data.
With more widely-available carbon footprint and emission data, businesses could also see how their IT and technology choices and suppliers fit into their overall business net-zero goals.
Many companies do not know how to achieve their website and digital net-zero goals
Upgrading their websites could make a significant difference for many organisations – but they will not know without benchmarking data measuring their carbon footprint now.
As well as the benefits of greater transparency for website owners and content editors, this information will give developers and content editors developers better data to measure their progress – and the impetus to change their behaviour.
A better understanding of how to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of a website and which elements contribute the most to the carbon footprint and resulting emissions can help website owners and editors make greener choices from the start. And organisations could then communicate that back to potential customers, investors, and employees, enabling them and their brand to benefit from their greener choices without the danger of being accused of greenwashing.
To meet our climate goals, organisation will need to be measuring the impact of their IT and websites. But these initiatives will not work without good data. We need to understand the climate impact of decisions to make better ones.
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