Climate change is an increasingly pressing issue in today’s society and carbon emissions are one of the main contributors. In a period when...
Climate change is an increasingly pressing issue in today’s society and carbon emissions are one of the main contributors. In a period when consumers are spending more time online than ever before, the world’s largest environmental movement EARTHDAY.ORG and leading creative agency Hjaltelin Stahl, part of Accenture Interactive, want to shed some light on the carbon footprint of online video streaming and its effects on the environment.
Recent scientific reports have proven that video streaming contributes to global carbon emissions. Every time someone streams a video, energy is used to power infrastructure and operations, including mobile networks and data centres. This energy emits carbon and streaming in HD more energy than streaming in SD, therefore emitting more carbon into our atmosphere.
Now, the real problem isn’t streaming itself, it’s when and how we do it. Scientists at the UK's Royal Society say streaming Ultra HD on a phone generates up to 8 times more emissions than standard definition (SD)1. So, avoiding streaming in unnecessarily high resolution helps save emissions.
So EARTHDAY.ORG and Hjaltelin Stahl, worked together to reposition Standard Definition as the environmental choice, with a refreshed name and branding. Introducing Earth Definition, the new standard in streaming and a green alternative to HD. So how does it work? In down-sampling the streaming resolution from High Definition (HD) to Earth Definition (ED) the file size that is transmitted is reduced, which in turn saves carbon emissions. And, on smaller screens, the viewer can barely notice the difference.
The campaign is also urging the big players in streaming to make a small design change to their video players that could make a big difference – simply by adding a green ED next to the 480p setting, and auto-playing videos on mobile devices in Earth Definition.
To launch the campaign towards streaming users, and deliver the message with minimal environmental impact, Hjaltelin Stahl created a video with a low digital carbon footprint. Avoiding the use of actors and big crews and eliminating the need of flying people around the world, the creative team relied on animation to relay the message. Using a restricted colour palette and concentrating on black and white, the video uses less pixels and draws less energy from the screen, delivering on the promise to keep all elements of the campaign low emission.
Directed by award winning animation director and environmental activist Simon Robson, the film opens with the message ‘This video is not available in HD for the sake of our planet’, before we hear the calming, but informative, voice of A-list Hollywood actress Michelle Monaghan (“Messiah”, “Mission Impossible”, “True Detective) who explains how online video streaming has an impact on our earth. The minimalist animation is reminiscent of retro games graphics with a nod towards the 80’s grid graphic design, further directing attention to the campaign and giving consumers a better choice.
In addition to creating the campaign film, Hjaltelin Stahl also created a low emission website by eliminating all colour images and disabling the auto play of the film. The site has a cleaner footprint score than 82% of all web pages on the internet and is running on sustainable energy.
Earth Day hopes promoting an eco-resolution for online video use will raise awareness of the environmental impact of streaming - whilst also offering an actionable and achievable solution for those who want to make a better choice for the environment and still enjoy their fail compilations, cat videos, and box-set binges.
Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day, adds: “As our world shifts to an increasingly digital landscape, it is critical to consider the impact our technology has on the environment. Cutting down your digital carbon footprint is an overlooked but significant action individuals and organizations can take to lower emissions. On Earth Day and every day, its vital we all take the necessary steps now to restore our earth.”