Internet, car, online shopping: what Germans could do without for the climate – and what they could not do without
The internet is indispensable, especially for young people
People in Germany are concerned about climate change – and some are willing to give up certain comforts for this reason. Thus, before the start of the 27th UN Climate Change Conference, more than 8 out of 10 Germans (84 percent) say they are concerned about climate change. A quarter (25 percent) are even “very worried”, 40 percent “very worried”. Another fifth (19 percent) are at least somewhat concerned about climate change. This is the result of a representative survey of more than 1,000 people in Germany aged 16 and over. The people were also asked which digital and which analogue habits they could do without in terms of climate protection – and which they could not:
Internet: Using the internet is non-negotiable for most people in Germany. 13 percent could theoretically do without it, but only 2 percent of internet users could. Young people in particular no longer want to live without the internet. Only 1 percent of 16 to 29 year-olds would theoretically do without the internet in order to protect the climate. The use and production of end devices, the operation of data centres and transmission networks consume energy and thus cause CO2 emissions. According to estimates, this accounts for between 1.8 and 3.9 percent of global CO2 emissions.
Smartphone: 15 percent could theoretically do without a smartphone in the interest of climate protection. Only 6 percent of 16-29 year-olds and 32 percent of older people aged 65 and over could do without a smartphone.
Online shopping: One third (35 percent) would theoretically do without online shopping; here the distribution is almost the same across all age groups. Many older people also benefit from the elimination of long distances and schlepping.
Streaming: A third (36 percent) could theoretically do without streaming series, clips or films in the interest of climate protection. The environmental impacts of streaming vary greatly and can be reduced with just a few measures.
In order to save CO2 when using the internet and devices, Bitkom recommends reviewing and adapting one’s own usage behaviour. For example, the energy demand for streaming depends largely on the choice of end device and the resolution of the video files (download Bitkom guide “Sustainability of Streaming & Co”). For example, video streaming on a smartphone or tablet in SD resolution causes about 30 to 35 grams of CO2 per hour. Streaming in a very high resolution on a large flat-screen TV, on the other hand, means 880 grams of CO2. If you also deactivate auto-play, you avoid streaming even more, even though no one is looking. Reducing screen brightness, using the energy-saving function of devices, deleting unnecessary data and apps or avoiding stand-by also save energy. In the case of devices such as smartphones, it is worthwhile to use them for as long as possible, to pass on old devices or to use refurbished products instead of new ones.
Do without a car? Share doubles
The Bitkom study also asked about some analogue conveniences and a potential renunciation. According to the study, many could theoretically do without flying (37 percent). 34 percent would completely give up eating meat and 12 percent would give up their car – this was the largest increase compared to the previous year (2021: 6 percent). 8 percent state that they would theoretically give up all conveniences if this would significantly slow down climate change. 11 percent would not want to do without anything at all.
Note on methodology: The data is based on a survey conducted by Bitkom Research on behalf of the digital association Bitkom. In the process, 1,003 people in Germany aged 16 and over were interviewed by telephone. The survey is representative. The questions were: “To what extent do the following political, economic and social issues concern you?” and “Which of the following things could you theoretically do without in the future for the sake of climate protection? (Maximum of 3 answers possible).