Global Impact of Website Emissions

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    Global Impact of Website Emissions

    Some of the largest companies in the world have taken strides to become climate-conscious in recent years, pledging climate objectives and renewable products to combat climate change. However, when a company is that large, it needs to use a lot of energy for operations to continue as normal, and it will often need the best business electricity rate to keep costs down.

    One massively important tool for most companies in the digital age is their website, a place for their customers (and prospective customers) to learn about the company, find products and services they provide and ultimately spend their hard-earned money at that business.

    With significant usage, some websites produce a large carbon footprint, but which websites have the biggest environmental impact? By looking into the emissions of some of the biggest companies’ websites in the world, we have compared the business energy of the sites to estimate how many trees you would need to offset each company’s annual carbon dioxide emissions.

    Apple would have to plant nearly 800,000 trees per year to offset website CO2 emissions

    When looking at the websites that produce the most carbon dioxide emissions, we found that technology companies are the biggest contributors, as half of the top 10 in the rankings are companies in that field. Moreover, the top three companies all operate in that sector and between them, they would need to plant well over a million trees to offset one year’s emissions.

    Apple would have to plant nearly 800,000 trees per year to offset website CO2 emissions

    1. Apple – 781,897 trees per year needed to offset the website’s annual carbon emissions:

    Technology giant Apple has come a long way in the 21st century, with the introduction of the iPhone helping it become a leader in handheld communication. Reportedly, there are almost 1.5 billion iPhones in the world. Apple is committed to helping the environment with its ‘Apple 2030’ plan to bring its net emissions to zero in the next six years. They have a lot of offsetting to do from their website, as it is estimated that you would need almost 800,000 trees to offset the carbon dioxide produced by people visiting the Apple website.

    2. Amazon – 450,627 trees needed per year to offset the website’s annual carbon emissions:

    Ironically, sharing a name with the most famous forest in the world, the gigantic online retailer and technology company Amazon is a world leader in e-commerce and has a website millions of people use every day to buy everything you could imagine. As a result, their website gets a lot of usage, and every page visit produces over a gram of carbon dioxide. Over a year, you would need around 450,000 trees to offset the amount of carbon dioxide produced.

    3. Alphabet (Google) – 411,452 trees needed per year to offset the website’s annual carbon emissions:

    Alphabet is the lesser-known parent company of Google, the technology giant known for its famous search engine and internet browser. As the company has grown, it has branched out into many different sectors, offering more and more products to its customers. For this report, we used the Google website to study, and it has over three billion organic page visits in a month. This results in a need for over 400,000 trees if they want to offset the emissions it produces.

    4. Walmart – 237,238 trees needed per year to offset the website’s annual carbon emissions:

    The first company not primarily in the tech industry to have a website with very high emissions is Walmart. The retailer specialises in giant supermarkets in the USA and worldwide through various subsidiary brands. In the modern world, many people order groceries online for delivery or collection, meaning the Walmart website will get a lot of traffic. You would need just under 240,000 trees to offset the annual emissions from the Walmart website.

    5. Tesla – 82,678 trees needed per year to offset the website’s annual carbon emissions:

    Tesla is a company that specialises in producing electric cars, a form of transportation designed to help combat climate change. Unfortunately, the production of these cars produces high emissions. On top of this, the Tesla website produces 4.68 grams of carbon dioxide per page visit. Over a year, you need over 80,000 trees to offset the total emissions.

    Health insurance provider Elevance Health is the major company with the lowest website emissions

    Health insurance provider Elevance Health is the major company with the lowest website emissions

    Many companies with the lowest website emissions are based in Europe rather than across the Atlantic in America. The European Union has strict targets for reducing emissions, which could help explain why eight of the top 10 are companies from that continent.

    Companies with the lowest website emissions

    1. Elevance Health – 20 trees needed per year to offset the website’s annual carbon emissions:

    At the lower end of the emissions ranking is Elevance Health. As a health insurance provider to millions of Americans, the company helps people’s health needs, while its website helps the planet’s health with its low emissions. It is estimated that you would just need 20 trees to offset the carbon dioxide emissions on their website, but they could probably plant that many in the garden of their Indianapolis headquarters!

    2. Equinor – 25 trees needed per year to offset the website’s annual carbon emissions:

    Stavanger, Norway, is home to beautiful scenery and is known as the gateway to the famous Fjords along Norway’s coast. It is also the home of the state-owned energy company Equinor, an oil company that operates largely in the North Sea and further afield. In addition to oil, Equinor has interests in renewable energy, and its website is helping cultivate a more sustainable image, as it would need just 25 trees to offset the annual carbon dioxide produced.

    3. Sanofi – 59 trees needed per year to offset the website’s annual carbon emissions:

    Sanofi is a pharmaceutical company based in Paris, France. According to Forbes Global 2000, it is the fifth biggest company in France. When it comes to offsetting a website’s carbon dioxide emissions, Sanofi ranks third best, as it would require just 59 trees to offset the annual emissions.

    4. Deutsche Telekom – 102 trees needed per year to offset the website’s annual carbon emissions:

    Deutsche Telekom is better known worldwide as T-Mobile. It is the fifth-largest telecommunications company in the world, and its mobile network is used by almost 120 million people in the US alone. Although it is the first company at the low end of the rankings to need more than 100 trees to offset its annual website emission, it is still the fourth lowest total of the sites studied.

    5. BNP Paribas – 116 trees needed per year to offset the website’s annual carbon emissions:

    A second French company ranks in the top five for the fewest trees needed to offset website emissions. It is estimated that just 116 trees would be needed to offset the annual carbon dioxide emissions from the site. BNP Paribas is often associated with the French Open in tennis as a principal sponsor, but it is the world of banking where it specialises as it is one of the largest banks in Europe.

    Companies with the lowest website emissions

    You would need 230,000 trees per year on average to offset the emissions of these two major e-commerce brands

    Industries that need the most trees to offset their carbon emissions

    1. E-commerce – 231,833 trees needed per year to offset the average annual carbon emissions:

    E-commerce companies need the most trees to offset their carbon emissions. On average, more than 230,000 trees would need to be planted to offset the carbon dioxide emitted by Amazon and Alibaba (the two e-commerce companies in our study).

    2. Technology – 134,060 trees needed per year to offset the average annual carbon emissions:

    Ten companies in the study specialise in technology products, and the average emissions from their websites are the second highest. As a result, you would need to plant over 130,000 trees to offset the average annual emissions.

    3. Retail – 79,476 trees needed per year to offset the average annual carbon emissions:

    With just under 80,000 trees needed to offset their websites’ average emissions, retail companies have the third-highest average annual carbon emissions. Walmart and Costco are the biggest contributors within this sector with 237,238 and 78,712 trees needed, respectively.

    Industries that need the most trees to offset their carbon emissions

    Author Commentary

    “All companies in the modern age have climate-conscious goals, however, demand from website visitors can sometimes prove an uphill battle when trying to lower emissions; in fact, up to 4.68g of carbon dioxide can be used per page visit to some of the world’s leading major companies!

    “With millions of views per month being recorded by the likes of Apple and Amazon, the potential build-up of website emissions is alarming. With this in mind, the Utility Bidder team wanted to analyse the striking global impact of website emissions, and I’m delighted to share this new report with our readers.

    “Using major companies from the top 100 of the Forbes Global 2000 list, we developed an in-depth seeding list to cover global powers from e-commerce, technology, retail, logistics, motoring, and more. So, which companies are proving the most damaging to the environment?

    “There is perhaps no surprise that Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet (Google) are the companies with by far the most monthly organic page views. Nevertheless, despite Apple having more than three times fewer views than Alphabet per month, carbon dioxide usage per page is substantially higher. As a result, it would take more than 780,000 trees to absorb Apple’s annual website carbon emissions – the most of any company in the world by some distance.

    “Whether you are a small or large business, there are always environmentally-friendly considerations that can be made to help mitigate the onset of carbon emissions as much as possible – from keeping your media library to compress website codes.”

    Methodology

    ● We created a seed list of companies from the top 100 on the Forbes Global 2000 list. Note that we could not get complete data for 20 of these companies, leaving us with a list of 80 companies
    ● We found the websites of each company for the study and then used SemRush to find the average monthly organic traffic for each site.
    ● Using the website carbon calculator, we discovered the amount of carbon generated per website visit and calculated an estimation for the amount of trees needed to offset the website’s carbon production in a year.

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