Emissions from digital entertainment aren’t always so black and white
While Western countries have implemented carbon taxes few of them have been as successful at getting through as unscathed as Canada. First launched by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2018, the carbon tax began at $20 per ton of emissions and is predicted to rise to $170 by 2030 as Canada seeks to quash its impact on the environment.
The entertainment industry is often cited as one of the bigger culprits when it comes to emissions. It isn’t up there with travel or mechanized industry, but the volume of digital media we consume is claimed to be playing its part. How much of an impact does it truly have, though, and how are Canada’s federal carbon taxes implemented?
Entertainment Industries Hit by the Carbon Tax
Officially, the Federal Carbon Pricing Plan was designed to target the heaviest of polluters. However, other industries are now beginning to feel the pinch, such as the entertainment sector including music, gaming, gambling, and video streaming services. Even a platform like GamblingSites.org which offers expert reviews of casinos, now coming under the microscope. Moreover, platforms that allow you to wager use a lot of energy consumption to be able to operate.
Cryptocurrencies, more specifically Bitcoin and Ethereum, are notorious for being ravenous consumers of electricity. Bitcoin mining causes 16.4 million tons of C02 emissions annually, while the amount of electricity required to mine Ethereum is equivalent to the annual use of electricity in Austria.
Online Entertainment and Media Consumption – The Facts
Outside of cryptocurrencies and gambling, other, more popular forms of entertainment are reportedly producing emissions. The network infrastructure and data centers associated with video streaming services, and even the emissions from media devices themselves, are all responsible outputs (compared to other sectors).
Even online shopping and e-commerce don’t escape unscathed. In fact, Canada’s sixth-fastest growing industry is held up by petabytes of data in data control and cloud storage centres. Social media is, of course, another major culprit likely to end up forking out a considerable rate in carbon taxes, right? Well, not exactly.
While we all know that streaming video, playing games, and listening to music cause emissions, the big question is – how much?
You may have heard that engaging in such entertainment activities for 30 minutes is equivalent to driving for four hours (1.6kg of C02 emissions). That’s not actually true. According to commentaries and research from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the actual figures are now around 0.2kg per 30 mins, eight times less.
Therefore, giants like Netflix, Amazon, and others are slowly beginning to work on changes to how they operate to avoid getting hamstrung by carbon taxes.
Keeping Everyone Onboard
Canada has been relatively successful at implementing its carbon tax for one very good reason. 90% of revenue raised from the Federal Carbon Pricing Plan goes back into the pockets of residents and 10% to support rural communities. With that in mind, there’s little wonder the carbon tax laws have passed without issue.
Many Canadians are starting to see financial payments made through the Canada Revenue Agency, which is designed to offset any increases in prices due to the federal pollution system’s pricing charts. This summer, Ontario, Atlantic Canada, Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island residents will all be eligible to receive one of the cash-boosting payments.
Initiatives to Support Sustainability
Getting the citizens onside has been a crucial aspect of the carbon tax. However, there is other work afoot to support sustainability. For instance, a handful of Canadian provinces have taken action to limit cryptocurrency mining, with regions such as Manitoba actively introducing 18-month mining bans to reduce emissions. Ethereum, itself has recently introduced a plan to reduce its carbon emissions by a lofty 99% by “merging transactions” across its ecosystems.
The use of renewable energy and resource management by gaming companies is also being considered. Lastly, digital documentation is now commonplace when it comes to receipts, bills, and administration.
Canada is leading the way when it comes to implementing carbon taxes, and the entertainment industry is responding, ensuring that we get the same quality services without having to curb our use of entertainment and media.