only 57% of major environmental websites run on sustainable energy

Websites are a vital platform for environmental organisations to spread their message and drive change, but are they as ‘clean’ as we hope they are?

Perhaps not.

A new study by the web experts at Rouge Media has analysed the carbon footprints of 42 worldwide environmental organisations’ websites to name the ‘cleanest’ and ‘dirtiest’, based on the energy source they run on and the estimated amount of Co2 produced per visit.

The findings come as the Eco-Friendly Web Alliance (EFWA) creates the world’s first eco-standard for websites that emit less than one gram of Co2 per page view. It hopes to prevent a further 500,000 tones of Co2 from being added to the atmosphere in the next decade by supporting website operators to cut the emissions their sites produce.

Using data scraped from the Website Carbon Calculator tool, it is estimated that 57% of the 42 websites studied run on energy from sustainable sources. The remaining 43% use datacentres that run on ‘bog standard energy’ from the electricity grid or aren’t registered with The Green Web Foundation. This means carbon footprint savings are being missed out on:

Looking at the top 15 ‘dirtiest’ environmental websites studied, if each site had 10K visitors a month for a year, an estimated 9,231kg of Co2 would be produced – that’s over 9 tonnes.

To put this amount into perspective, 427 trees would be needed to absorb this amount of Co2. It’s enough energy to fully charge an iPhone 13 Pro 585,229 times or drive an electric car 128,299km – the U.S. Route 66 highway over 32 times.

By comparison, the 15 ‘cleanest’ environmental websites would produce 1,296kg of Co2 annually. This amount could be absorbed by 66 trees, charge an iPhone 13 Pro 84,204 times or power an electric car for 18,497km.

World Wide Views on Global Warming has the ‘cleanest’ environmental website studied, producing just 0.1 grams of Co2 per visit, closely followed by Greenpeace (0.12g), Extinction Rebellion (0.27g), C40 Cities (0.3g) and Carbon Trade Watch (0.49g).

Only 9 trees would be needed to absorb the Co2 produced by the five ‘cleanest’ websites annually, compared to 231 trees for the five ‘dirtiest’.

At the other end of the rankings, Climateworks Foundation produces the most Co2 per visit (17.1g) or 2,056kg a year taking 94 trees to absorb, followed by Rainforest Action Network (7.1g), United Nations Climate Change (6.8g), Carbon Underground (6g) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (4.9g).

 

Andy Woods, Director at Rouge Media commented on the findings: 

“It has been very interesting to analyse the carbon footprints of some of the world’s largest and most influential environmental organisations. 

“The environment is now top of mind for most people and businesses. And this is partly thanks to the excellent work of the organisations we included in our study. But it’s clear more could be done to make the web more sustainable and limit the digital world’s very real-world impacts.”

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