Watching Netflix on standard definition could help to reduce carbon emissions and prevent climate change, according to a new report.
When you watch your favourite show in crystal clear high-def, you’re generating around eight times as much as carbon as you would watching it in regular quality.
Scientists from the UK’s Royal Society suggest on a small screen phone you’re unlikely to even notice the difference.
The report’s authors also point the finger at the platforms themselves, arguing for default standard definition and limited streaming resolution.
Total global emissions from digital technology is estimated at as much as 5% – with energy requirements coming from unlikely sources.
One Instagram post from football star Cristiano Ronaldo consumes as much power as ten UK households do in a year.
The total energy required to sustain Bitcoin is as much as Switzerland’s entire energy consumption.
In the interconnected world of the modern-day web, small individual actions can have vast consequences.
Which is why the report’s authors are suggesting small actions on behalf of users, like turning off video when streaming music from YouTube.
Small moves like this could save as much as 5% of streaming emissions – equivalent to switching all of YouTube’s serves on renewable energy.
Other tiny sacrifices include buying second-hand devices.
Keeping phones for a bit longer before upgrading can offset the significant emissions from making new devices.
Changing your phone every four years, instead of two, would halve the emissions produced from manufacturing.
‘There are many routes to net zero [carbon emissions], but digital technology has a central role to play,’ said lead author Prof Andy Hopper from Cambridge University.
‘We must stay alert to digital demand outpacing the carbon emission reductions this transition promises.’
While the savings would be significant in the global fight against climate change, the overall reductions would be a small fraction of total emissions.
‘To be honest, digital tech is a small fraction of your emissions compared with, say flying even once a year – but every bit of CO2 saving is significant,’ co-author of the report, Prof Corinne Le Querre told BBC News.
‘What’s more, we’re trying to prompt people to harness the power of digital to help tackle climate change.
‘The way we heat our homes, for instance, is a nonsense. We occupy part of house but heat the whole thing. We can cure that by using digital technology.
‘We have to make sure that the digital revolution supports the climate revolution – and we’re failing to do that at the moment.’