What is the carbon footprint of online newspapers ?

12 June 2023 | digital pollution

What are the online news sites that are the most ecologic ? 

On average, French people spend 3% of their time consulting the internet on news sites, so a bit more than 2h per month per person.This looks like it’s not much, but on the scale of France, this corresponds to more than 45 billions of views per year ! And in terms of carbon emissions and electricity consumption, where does this leave us? And what are the solutions to reduce this impact? 

The internet carbon emissions : what impact ? 

If you are following, you probably know that internet use’ represents between 10 to 15% of electricity consumption at the global level, and around 6% of global carbon emissions (twice more than aviation…). Indeed, electricity used to power the servers and the infrastructure of the internet emits carbon, and our navigation isn’t neutral. 

If efforts are made by the constructors of materials and the hosts to reduce this electric consumption, equally for economic reasons, the carbon footprint of the internet wouldn’t be neutral unfortunately.  

Yet, it is also possible to act on another lever : optimize and reduce the amount of necessary data to the display of a website. Because less a page needs resources, less it needs servers and infrastructure of information transport, and less it consumes energy. This is the purpose of the solution developed by Greenoco. 

But how to know what is the carbon footprint of my navigation ? 

The online news sites, what is the environmental balance sheet compared to the newspapers ?

The consultation of a web page is responsible for the emission to 0.1 to 10 grams of CO2, depending on the loaded resources and on the optimization of the page. Yes, you have read well, we have a possible difference from 1 to 100. 

“The online version is more responsible than printing paper”, we have all heard or thought. So let’s take a calculator. 

We have realized in March 2022 a measure on 10 news sites that are the most consulted in France in 2021, in order to know their carbon impact. 

To make the survey as objective as possible, we have audited the homepage (with a 25% ponderation), a page of an article category (25%), and the average of the two articles pages (50% ponderation). Public audiences data of these websites have been used to calculate the amount of emissions per year. 

And hopefully we didn’t find a website above 1g of CO2 on average per page viewed ! 

But differences are up to 1 to 7 still, between 0.1 and 0.7g of CO2/page viewed. 

In a comparison to the paper version of a newspaper, presenting a CO2 balance sheet estimated at 200g, we are far away. To make the paper version more ecologic, it needs at least 300 articles to have been read by copies. This can be the case in public places (library, coffee) where the newspaper is going from hands to hands. But if you’re the only one reading the newspaper, the subscription to the digital version will be most ecologic.

The ranking of the most ecologic news sites ?

Following this survey, we have dressed up a ranking of the 9 news sites the most viewed in France, estimating the global emissions of CO2 of the newspaper in a year and the average emissions per page viewed. 

Don’t get it wrong, these newspapers don’t look to pollute, they’re looking, like everyone, to limitate their emissions. The electric consumption and the host costing a lot of money anyway, they have no interest in not looking to control these consumptions. 

But depending on the realized optimizations, some are more efficient than others. The winner of our survey is “Ouest-France.fr”, with in average 0.15g of CO2 per page viewed, while the less eco-responsible is “lequipe.fr” with 0.66g. 

But in the end, after seeing their audience, these 9 news sites the most viewed in France are responsible for the emissions of more than 9.000 tons of CO2/year, the equivalent of 70 millions of km in a gasoline-powered city car. 

Position Websites Average emissions per page viewed Annual emissions of the website


0,15 g

448 Tonnes



0,17 g

387 Tonnes



0,28 g

1 042 Tonnes



0,30 g

1 042 Tonnes



0,30 g

358 Tonnes



0,31 g

614 Tonnes



0,42 g

830 Tonnes



0,62 g

938 Tonnes



0,66 g

3 256 tonnes

What is the potential of increase ?

So how to reduce digital pollution of news sites?

An extreme will be so do you consult them completely, and to not access the information. Wishing that nobody can live in the dictatorial resume and the press and information would have a small value, it is fortunately not a possibility that we wish to see.

On the contrary, it is possible to optimize the transferred data volumes to display pages, and to reduce the electricity consumption. Our measure has revealed potential optimization between 20 to 60% of emissions according to sites. Non-negligible, because even with a 20% optimization, the emission economy of CO2 would be close to 2000 tons per year, the total average emissions of more than 200 French people during the year.

How? We have identified 3 tracks through our survey and our measure:

1/ Increase the optimization of images and medias’ websites.

These images are a resource that has a heavyweight and have an important impact on the carbon footprint of websites. Some sites present images in different formats of resolutions non optimized and could be reduced to 10 to 50% according to sites.

The generalized use of modern formats such as webp or the avif would allow to increase importantly our CO2 economies, we’re talking about 1000 tons equivalent CO2 per year for these online newspapers (or 8 million of kilometers in fuel cars).

2/ Optimize source code of some sites

Some of the survey sites use typographies (“fonts”) in old formats, that if they were removed by their new versions, it would allow easily to avoid 50 tons equivalent emissions of carbon (the equivalent of 400,000 kilometers in a car per year).

Portions of code non compressed or non-minified, if they were, would allow an economy at least as important every year.

3/ Focus on paid subscriptions in counterparty of the suppression of ads and links going to external publications

External resources or some of the sites are important. It is by example of external ads (advertising banner) or blocks of links going to external resources such as other news sites (links going to platforms of type outbrain for example). Within sites because making parts of the necessary economic model, these could be deleted (or reduced) in order of paid subscriptions.

This would lead to a modification of the economic model and every reader isn’t ready to pay for information, but this could be a reflection way to reduce digital carbon footprint.

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