The cloud: what carbon impact?

12 June 2023 | digital pollution

The cloud: what impact on the environment?

The cloud has a dematerialized image in terms of digital carbon emissions. Yet, the construction of data centers and their staggering energetic consumption, they are real. What carbon impact has the cloud concrete? Is it only negative? Finally, can we combine digital sobriety and use of the cloud?

Carbon impact of the cloud

According to a Swedish study, the sector of the clouds will be responsible for 5% of CO2 emissions by 2025, so 20% of the global electricity.

On the contrary, concrete pollution like the one of the plastic for example, the internal pollution is less simple to quantify and to identify because it’s dematerialized. Indeed, relocating the storage and the strength of data centers and the cloud makes a whole part of the digital sector, and so the Internet carbon balance by extension, invisible.

Also, if the cloud impacts so much the environment in terms of carbon emissions it’s for many reasons:

  • There are more and more users. The data increases. Services are more and more fast and qualitative, particularly with the arrival of the 5G and the strength of the optic fiber. Thus, needs in storage increase. Needs in materials to build these infrastructures are growing up. The cooling is growing and asking a considerable amount of energy to be powered and cooled 7 days on 7, 24 hours on 24.
  • Like suggested on the point before, needs are growing up. This sometimes leads an “infobesity*”. The illusion of an infinite capacity is offered. We duplicate, we store instead of sort, lightened data, without asking if it’s necessary.
  • Having access to the cloud whenever and wherever is an advantage: all is stored in the same place and we can access it with no constraint. The advantage has also and in fact given the ease of access to data. It generates more activities and so more CO2 emissions. We estimate that the transfer of data consumes twice more energy than to store on a local support. If you often access the same data on the cloud, privilege a local storage.
  • Finally, capacities of treatment and fast transfer of the information on the Internet generate a “software obesity”. Because the information goes fast, less attention is paid to their optimization. For Joël Courtois, director of engineering school in informatic Epita: “in 12 years, software ask on average 71 times more RAM. Thus, the software slows down faster than the material progresses”. Greenoco fights against the software obesity of websites.

The benefits of cloud computing

The use of the cloud can on the contrary show positive aspects. The development of remote working has known for several years an important boom. This has for consequence to decrease the need of offices and reducing CO2 emissions.

Moreover, thanks to remote working, the use of personal vehicles is reduced. Which has a direct impact on the generated pollution by transports. Indeed, 74% of employees use their vehicles to go to work, every day. By reducing home tilting movements – work, the carbon footprint is reduced.  

The computing cloud also has its benefits of business surveys. It allows a company a big flexibility, and to evolve its cloud infrastructure concerning its real needs. Companies have the possibility to manage their informatic park more easily, and don’t have to carry anymore on the strength of calculation, of storage space or again the number of users. Infrastructures can be mutualized and used to the best of their ability. Because the material represents 80% of the digital carbon footprint, the use of the cloud can allow to reduce this pollution.

Finally, using the cloud for personal use also has its benefits. Nevertheless, is the boom of remote working able to reduce all the carbon emissions related to the use of the cloud? The question of the proper use of tools and platforms stays primordial.


The cloud, as we have seen it, has a great environmental impact. From the storage in the data centers, and the transportation of the information. But there’s still some benefits! Everything is not simple in the sector of digital.

Reducing the carbon footprint of his website is part of them. Greenoco is specialist on this and can help you both to reduce your carbon emissions and to make your website more performing.

Consult the presentation of our solution to measure the carbon footprint of the website to take action.



*Infobesity: Infobesity is from the contraction of terms “information” and “obesity”. It means the information overload of which we are everyday faced with.

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