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By | March 26, 2024

FOSDEM 2024 Recap – A Journey Across the Environmental Materiality of Digital Services

At FOSDEM 2024’s Energy Devroom, Benoit Petit and David Ekchajzer, representatives of Boavizta, led a session titled “A Journey Across the Environmental Materiality of Digital Services” (video follows below). In this session, they delved into the intricate web of environmental impacts caused by our digital footprint and outlined strategies for understanding and mitigating these effects.

Understanding Environmental Materiality

The speakers emphasized the concept of environmental materiality, which encompasses the broader environmental impact of digital services beyond just carbon emissions. It includes considerations such as pollution and resource usage, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach to environmental accounting.

Importance of Environmental Accounting

Boavizta, an NGO based in France, is dedicated to providing open methods, data, tools, and knowledge about the environmental impacts of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). They stressed the significance of environmental accounting in assessing the true impact of digital services throughout their lifecycle, from manufacturing to end-of-life disposal.

Challenges in Assessing Impact

Assessing the environmental impact of digital services presents several challenges, including accounting for the entire value chain and life cycle phases. The speakers discussed the difficulties in obtaining accurate data due to variations in methodologies and data sources, highlighting the need for open approaches to ensure transparency and accountability.

Focus on Energy Footprint

While energy consumption is a major focus when considering the environmental impact of ICT, the speakers noted that it’s only one aspect of the broader picture. They highlighted the exponential growth in energy consumption by data centers and the need to consider other impacts such as water usage, mineral consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Tools for Assessment and Action

Boavizta is developing tools to help assess and mitigate the environmental impact of digital services. These tools enable users to evaluate the environmental footprint of their ICT usage and make informed decisions to reduce their impact.