Since the appearance of the first web browser back in the early 90s, our realities have undergone transformations at unprecedented levels and speeds.

The Internet has not only changed the structures that govern social relationships and how we communicate with each other, it has also revolutionized the way we access and store information.

These two great axes of transformation, which are fully intangible, seem to be protected by an aura of environmental impunity. Precisely because of this intangible nature, a false sensation is generated where no one considers that a simple “Good morning” message on WhatsApp may be generating emissions of up to 0.2 grams of carbon dioxide.

For those people who do not have direct contact, due to their profession or interest, with the world of data, it is difficult to be aware of the necessary structure for the internet to work strong>and that any user has the possibility to access all types of information at any time and from almost any geographical point. In this sense, the intangible becomes tangible when learning about the existence and operation of data centers. A data center is defined as a physical and centralized facility where companies or entities with large amounts of information house computer systems, network equipment, and the necessary hardware for their processes (this includes their Internet connectivity). In real data, it is estimated that the carbon emissions generated by these data centers now represent more than 2% of global emissions. It is true that today some of these centers have made the decision to expand by using the cloud or cloud in order to improve their performance or storage capacity.

However, these cloud-based data centers, in short, are nothing more than the use of servers of large multinationals that centralize these procedures. In the European case, around 30% of the data centers belonging to these large companies reside in Amsterdam, where they acquire huge pavilions or even residential buildings and turn them into warehouses where they can locate their servers. . In this case, the local administration has already taken action on the matter, stopping its rampant appearance for reasons of consumption and urban planning issues.

Looking ahead to a future where the use of data centers does not appear to be diminishing due to a clear increase in the dependence of society as a whole on the Internet, a coordinated action among the agents of the sector is of vital importance. Along these lines, one year after the adoption of the European Sustainability Pact, the Pact for the Climate Neutrality of Data Centers. This pact establishes a self-regulation initiative with a series of objectives that are intended to add to the European transition towards a greener economy. The objectives include; the use of renewable energies, water conservation, the reuse of materials and equipment, the reuse of the heat generated by the activity of the center itself and a system of collaboration and coordination between the main companies and agents in the sector.

In short, it is actions of these characteristics that are necessary to provide visibility to this reality and support the sustainable growth of a sector that, if it is not already sustainable, will become the basis on which to develop the vast majority of actions and decisions that impact our lives.

Article available in the Naider Winter Magazine