How the IT and Data industry contribute to global warming (and what to do about it)


Post COP26, and with the urgent need for organisations and individuals to take action, we thought we’d surprise you with a few jaw-dropping stats about the IT industry’s contribution to global warming (and what to do about it).

  1. Over 122.3 billion spam emails are sent every day which is approximately 85% of the world’s daily email traffic. Even when filtered out by your email, it is responsible for creating over 3700 tonnes of C02 emissions every single day. [Matt Watts, NetApp on LinkedIn.10

  2. Data centres currently make up a bigger carbon footprint than the entire aviation industry alone, consuming around 2% of the world’s electricity. This figure is expected to rise to 8% by 2030. Every action we take online, whether that is clicking a website link or streaming a video is matched to a ‘piece of data’ that corresponds to a ‘piece of energy’.11

  3. Only 12% of an organisation’s data is business critical. And 23% of it is redundant, obsolete or trivial. That means you could pretty much get rid of 80% of your data and massively reduce your storage costs and carbon footprint.13

  4. The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions (1.6 billion tonnes). If we put this into perspective, the average internet user is responsible for 414kg of carbon dioxide each year.8

  5. You would need to drive 1,240,476 miles to burn the same amount of energy as it takes to produce $1 in bitcoin.9

How can we reduce our data storage footprint?

Not all organisations need to be size of Microsoft or Apple to make steps in the right direction to minimise the effects data storage has on the environment. We’ve come up with a few different methods you can use to reduce the carbon footprint of your organisation’s data storage.

What should stay and what needs to go

Although information regarding company financials and personnel information should be held onto, not all data should be stored and hoarded. In relation to necessary guidelines, regulatory data should be erased or archived in accordance with the time period it's allowed to be kept. However, the ROT data that we tend to store which takes up 23% of our data estate can easily be deleted or archived,

Some may argue that there is value in the data that is being stored, but the cost of storing that data far outweighs the need to hold on to information that is no longer in use or value to the organisation.

Data deduplication 

In this US alone, duplicated data is costing organisations and estimated $3.1 trillion annually, due to poor data management12. We live in world where organisations and teams connect and collaborate through may different applications whether that’s email, Slack, Dropbox or Google Drive, making it very easy for us to fall into the trap of duplicating data as we may send the same attachments via multiple avenues. Through deduplication, we can find and eliminate the pieces of data that have been stored in multiple places or data sets, meaning we only have the single copy stored.

Data management

As data professionals, we responsible for correctly managing the data that is being created on a daily basis in our businesses. To avoid excessive amount of ROT data building up, data admins need to ensure the right processes are put into place to prevent excess data appearing.

So, how can you do all this?

You’re probably thinking right now that all you’ve read is valid, but impossible to do because there is no way of finding the redundant, obsolete, trivial and out-of-policy data that you’d love to reduce.

Well, there is a way! And it is Exonar Reveal. The Exonar Reveal platform will ingest, analyse and index all your data. And provide at-a-glance, simple results that show you exactly what data you had stored in any given location. Number of files. PII present. Company sensitive information. Size of objects. Total risk profile. Ethnicity, credit card details, religion, email addresses, physical addresses, national insurance numbers – anything that’s out of policy.

Exonar Reveal highlights exactly what content is stored in every file, at every location and enables you to find, classify and separate anything that’s no longer needed.

Imagine how much data you could remove, and what that would start to do, not only to your carbon footprint, but your cost of storage. Win win.

To find out more request a demo.



[2] Electricity Cost Per kWh | What Should You Be Paying? (

[3] internet - How much energy does it take to store 1 Terabyte of data in the cloud? - Sustainable Living Stack Exchange

[4] 4 Dark Data Mining Insights for Small Business Owners (

[5] Renewable Energy Alone Can’t Address Data Centers’ Adverse Environmental Impact (

[6] Driving in the UK - Statistics & Facts | Statista

[7] 11 Ways Businesses Can Reduce Their Carbon Emissions - Shred Station®

[8] Why your internet habits are not as clean as you think - BBC Future

[9] Visualizing the Carbon Footprint of Gold and Bitcoin (