Sending one less 'unnecessary' email a day could save 16,000 tonnes of carbon a year, study finds

The study showed that 72 per cent of the UK are unaware of the carbon footprint attached to their inbox. CREDIT: ANDREW BROOKES /CULTURA RF

Published on The Telegraph website on the 26th November 2019
Story by Mason Boycott-Owen


Sending just one less unnecessary email per day could reduce the UK’s carbon footprint by 16,000 tonnes per year, according to research.

The study, conducted in part by Professor Mike Berners-Lee, claims that the UK sends over 64 million unnecessary emails every day which sheds new light on how our everyday lives can impact the climate.

The research released today found that UK adults send around 11 unnecessary emails each day, with simple one or two word replies such as ‘thanks’ or ‘you too’ driving part of the UK’s carbon output.

The energy required from email servers, networks and systems such as the cloud in one year are claimed to create carbon footprint which is the same as 81,152 flights to Madrid.

Professor Mike Berners-Lee, at Lancaster University who conducted the research told the Telegraph:

“It is a broad estimate based on some research  I did for my previous book based on the best available data for the carbon footprint of email.

“Whenever there’s junk in our lives, there’s an opportunity to make life better and save a bit of carbon while we’re at it.

“The carbon happens when you’re at your machine when you’re tapping your email out, and then you send it and the network uses some electricity to send it and then will end up being stored in the cloud, which again will take up electricity.

The study, commissioned by OVO energy, found that 49 per cent of Brits confess to sending unnecessary emails to a colleague or friend within talking distance every single day.

This also showed that 72 per cent of the UK are unaware of the carbon footprint attached to their inbox.

Professor Mike Berners-Lee, brother of Tim, who invented the World Wide Web in 1989, said that emails were just one of many ways humans do not understand the true extent of their carbon footprint.

“It goes on everywhere but you’ll only see one part of it,” says Professor Berners-Lee.

“You’re probably only aware that your computer is using energy, rather than servers or networks as well.

“Over the last few decades we have become millions of times more efficient in our ability to send a store information.

“But the carbon footprint has gone up, not down, we are now send millions and millions of times of more information, we are less disciplined about it.

“If we were sending letters we would really thinking of sending 200 of them to copy 200 people in.”

Comments are closed.