Netflix acquired 15.8 million new users during mid-March 2020 when many European countries enforced a hard lockdown due to COVID-19 . 1
Carbon brief has reported that 2020 will see the largest drop in CO2 emission levels to date.2 This was due to the decrease in transport use, a reduction in electricity demand for industrial activities, and limited air travel. However, there has been a global increase in streaming services which will counteract the expected decrease in CO2.
Our consumption of online content accounted for 1% of global CO2 omissions in 2019.3 That one percent is comprised of 20% for all non-video uses, 20% other video content such as Skype and Zoom, and 60% for online video content. Streaming platforms such as Netflix account for 34%.4
Netflix vice president, Cindy Holland, stated at the Innovation in Television Conference that Netflix users spend at least two hours on the streaming-service every day. The growth in Netflix users has had a direct impact on the global increase in CO2 emissions.5 In its Q1 figures, Netflix stated that they have over 182 million users.6 Globally, 182 million users streaming Netflix for two hours would generate roughly 61 million kgs of CO2
Currently, Netflix's global annual energy consumption is akin to powering 37,000 homes.8 An additional factor to consider is the energy type used to stream Netflix. Not all countries have access to renewable energy. An individual in South Africa that consumes 2 hours of Netflix on a laptop creates 0.64 kg of CO2.9 South Africa relies heavily on thermal power stations. 77% of South Africa’s energy is produced by coal. 10
In contrast, an individual in Finland will only generate 0.08 kg ofCO2. Finland has one of the highest shares of renewable energy globally. In 2017 their consumption of renewable energy was 41% of its total energy consumption. 11