Why we need to redesign the internet to fight climate change


The current global trend of digital consumption is unsustainable in terms of the energy and materials it requires. The exponential growth of digital consumption has led to a digital carbon footprint currently increasing at 8% each year. Although energy efficiency gains have been achieved through technical progress, there is no technological breakthrough expected in the next 10 years that could reverse or even counter this trend. The session therefore addressed how we need to make the digital ecosystem more sustainable by looking at consumption, so as to stop this exponential rise of material and energy consumption from digital technologies. This is mandatory if we want digitalisation to contribute positively to the climate objectives: cutting half of the global GHG emissions by 2030 is in itself a prerequisite to limit global warming to 2°C.

The Shift Project, a French non-profit think tank advocating the shift to a post-carbon economy, will present a plan based on a “digital sobriety principle” - a holistic approach encompassing consumers, enterprises, digital vendors and regulators, in order to bring forward a systemic shift. 

The plan is a result of nearly 4 years of research into reducing the environmental impact of ICT, including the report “Lean ICT. Towards Digital Sobriety” (2019) and seeks to show both challenges and solutions available for the ICT sector to contribute towards carbon neutrality. A new report characterizing ways towards digital sobriety will be published on the 15th of October and available on www.theshiftproject.org


Hugues Ferreboeuf, 57, has spent most of his professional career in the information technology sector, including 20 years in senior management positions. He has worked in various environments, such as large companies, high-growth companies and government agencies and has also been an entrepreneur, having created 3 companies.  He is a graduate of École Polytechnique and Telecom ParisTech. Convinced that we are going through major changes that require decisive and rapid action, he has chosen  to use his experience to advise companies and public bodies on how to transform themselves in order to deal with the current digital, energy and societal transitions. He is a partner in Virtus Management, a management consulting boutique based in Paris and has also joined the think tank The Shift Project (*) since the end of 2016 where he has been leading the Lean ICT project (or how to make the digital transition environmentally friendly). 
(*): The purpose of The Shift Project is to enlighten and influence the debate on the energy transition in France and Europe. 

climate change