Data center emissions account for small percentage of global emissions, Greenpeace information technology analyst Gary Cook tells us. That’s not much compared to 14 percent that goes towards agriculture or the 13 percent that goes to transportation. But data center emissions are growing by at least 13 percent per year, Cook says. And within two years, information technology in general, including manufacturing servers and other gear, is expected to be to account for between seven and 12 percent of all electrical use, according the report.
Data centers are expected to account for about 21 percent of that usage, mostly because of the explosive demand for streaming video. Cook explains that even though streaming can offset some emissions, such as the manufacture and delivery of DVDs or BluRay disks, the convenience of streaming is leading us to consume more content. Instead of buying a few videos and watching them again and again, we’re now binge-watching entire seasons of shows in a sitting, which ends up creating a bigger carbon footprint overall.