The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has unveiled an environmental sustainability strategy aimed at reducing its operational impact and promoting a greener internet in Canada.
CIRA is a national not-for-profit which manages .ca domains on behalf of Canadians. The organization also offers registry, Domain Name System (DNS) and cybersecurity services to organizations across Canada and around the world.
As SustainableBiz previously reported, when workers started video streaming and using online meeting platforms to perform their daily duties during the pandemic, online data use rose nearly 40 per cent in the U.S. from January to March 2020.
In addition to telework, seven per cent of Canadians reported using the Internet more frequently to earn income than they did prior to the pandemic. Furthermore, every online search query emits approximately 1.45 grams of CO2, which adds up to 26 kgs of CO2 per year if 50 searches are performed per day.
According to a 2019 report by The Shift Project, a Paris, France-based carbon transition think tank, internet and IT technology usage create more greenhouse gas emissions than the aviation industry and is predicted to account for eight per cent of emissions by 2025.
In the first year of its strategy, CIRA is prioritizing sustainability in its operations, which entails measuring the environmental impact of its global data centres.
The initiative is a key element of the company’s five-year plan to attain more sustainable operations, develop a sustainable internet and support Canada in meeting its climate targets.
CIRA’s environmental sustainability strategy
“We have seen how the Internet led to fundamental changes in our society during the pandemic; changes that lessened our reliance on fossil fuels, such as fewer cars on the road and less air travel,” said Byron Holland, president and CEO, CIRA, in a release. “The Internet has proven to be a massive positive force for environmental sustainability. Now we must strive to make the Canadian Internet itself green.”
CIRA plans to reduce its energy, emissions and waste impact on the planet through three guiding pillars that make up its environmental sustainability strategy:
– green workplace: the company aims to create an environmentally sustainable office where employees can thrive through:
– its LEED gold-certified office building;
– waste reduction efforts in the workplace via enhanced waste data, resource efficiency and employee education;
– encouraging sustainable commuting options for employees.
– green operations: CIRA strives to enhance energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions across its operations through:
– reducing greenhouse gas emissions from data centres through data collection, energy consumption reduction protocols and prioritizing data centre locations with lower grid emissions intensity. CIRA is also part of the Ottawa Green Business Network, a community of businesses which have made commitments to reduce emissions;
– sustainable procurement as it relates to equipment suppliers;
– reducing emissions from business travel.
– green internet: CIRA collaborates with other companies to help create a green and resilient internet by:
– funding climate action-related internet projects, such as green data centre research;
– collaborating with suppliers to provide a clear environmental policy and sustainability credentials;
– reporting on CIRA’s progress towards its sustainability performance.
“A green internet means efficient operations and a focus on procurement that considers sustainability at its core,” said Jane Fulford, chief operating officer, CIRA, in a release.
“From the data centres that power our global DNS infrastructure to our global business travel, we’re doing our part to reduce emissions by making the necessary changes in our operations to minimize our environmental impact.”
Canadian companies curbing the internet’s climate impact
As SustainableBiz previously reported, other Canadian companies are also working to curb the environmental impact of rising internet use.
The Sustainable IT Pledge is joining Canadian organizations for the first time to cut emissions created by their IT operations.
Participants in the program, led by CIO Strategy Council, include Accenture, ATCO, Bell, Canadian Blood Services, Micro Focus, Microsoft Canada, Oracle, CloudOps, Rockport and others.
These companies have pledged to address emissions from their IT operations by:
– optimizing systems to reduce data processing volumes;
– using Cloud-based services where possible;
– setting emissions targets for IT operations and publicly disclosing progress;
– setting sustainability standards for suppliers while supporting Canada’s cleantech industry;
– adopting sustainable IT practices.