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20 April 2016

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What's The Cost Of Surfing The Internet? 'Earth Mode' Browser Plug-in Helps Users Understand Their Impact On The Environment

You might not realise it but the amount of time you spend and what you do online takes its toll on the environment. Research* suggests that the average online user consumes 130 kgs of carbon a year - the equivalent to driving 740 km in a car - which could be offset by planting four trees. A new plug-in for Google's Chrome browser launched ahead of Earth Day on Friday (22 April) will help educate people about how much energy they consume online by calculating their digital carbon footprint and, as a result, inspire them to think about their everyday energy efficiency.

EARTH MODE is a new plug-in from Johnnie Walker for Earth Day
(PRNewsFoto/Johnnie Walker)
You might not realise it but the amount of time you spend and what you do online takes its toll on the environment.
Research* suggests that the average online user consumes 130 kgs of carbon a year - the equivalent to driving 740 km in a car - which could be offset by planting four trees.  
A new plug-in for Google's Chrome browser launched ahead of Earth Day on Friday (22 April) will help educate people about how much energy they consume online by calculating their digital carbon footprint and, as a result, inspire them to think about their everyday energy efficiency.  
The new Chrome plug-in comes from Johnnie Walker, makers of the world's best-selling Scotch whisky, who are partnering with Earth Day Network to urge people to take a small but progressive step towards helping the environment.

Earth Day Network is a global movement that aims to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to take action on environmental issues.
By measuring online usage over four weeks, the plug-in calculates the user's annual consumption of energy.  To offset it, Johnnie Walker will plant up to 75,000 trees as part of Earth Day Network's Canopy Project, which has planted more than three million trees since 2011 in areas in need of reforestation, such as in East Africa.  
Michael Thornton, Chief Executive of Carbon Analytics, which helps businesses manage their environmental impact, has worked with Johnnie Walker(R) on the development of Earth Mode (PRNewsFoto/Johnnie Walker)
Michael Thornton, Chief Executive of Carbon Analytics, which helps businesses manage their environmental impact, has worked with Johnnie Walker on the development of Earth Mode and says it is sometimes difficult for people to understand how using the internet creates a carbon footprint.
He said: "Each time that you use a website or search the internet it requires a lot of energy to provide the data.  Cumulatively across the world, this creates a large carbon footprint.
The Earth Mode plug-in is an easy-to-use calculator that is a helpful tool for understanding that footprint.  Individuals will be able to see their carbon usage displayed as the equivalent of everyday activities such as using a microwave, driving a car or taking a flight."
Guy Escolme, Johnnie Walker global brand director, said: "We believe that everyone wants their tomorrow to be better than today and Earth Mode gives people the opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment.  It is just one environmentally-friendly act but we hope it will educate and inspire users around the world to take other small actions to help Earth Day achieve its goal of reaching three billion 'Acts of Green'.
"Johnnie Walker is proud that our parent company Diageo has reduced its carbon emissions by 33% over eight years and one of the ways they have done that is to make its 35,000 employees across the world aware of the energy they use every day. Diageo aims to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2020."
Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network said: "Carbon footprints seem like a foreign concept to far too many of us, perhaps especially those of us in urban environments or not living along a coastline. But we should all be aware of what our energy needs and consumption are doing to our shared global environment."
"The more readily-available the information on our carbon footprint becomes, the more in contact with it in real-time we are, the more of an impact it will have. No more out-of-sight-out-of-mind. Now, like tracking the battery life on our cell phones, we will know what our computer usage is costing. And it will be eye-opening."
The Johnnie Walker Earth Mode plug-in is available from the Chrome Store for PC and Mac users. Once installed, users click on the Johnnie Walker 'Striding Man' icon to reveal a drop-down window that displays real-time online energy usage, and shows how many trees will be planted to offset their annual carbon footprint.
>> To download the plug-in, click here <<

*Research conducted by Carbon Analytics concludes that an average internet user consumes 130kgs of carbon a year. Using sources provided by Earth Day Network, we estimated that the average tree consumes 34kgs of carbon a year, therefore requiring the planting of four trees per person to offset their annual online carbon consumption average of 130kg.

The Video:
About Earth Day Network:  
The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Growing out of the first Earth DayEarth Day Network (EDN) works with tens of thousands of partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than one billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. For more information, visit www.earthday.org.

About Earth Mode:  
Earth Mode is a new plug-in for Google's Chrome browser which is available to PC and laptop users only. It is available for download from Monday 18 April - 16 May 2016 

Earth Mode Calculation Approach:  
Carbon Analytics arrived at an algorithm for converting online energy usage into carbon by taking a cross section of measurable variances into consideration: country power mix, browsing device, local network use and data throughput.
First they estimated the energy impact of a users' activity by:
  • User device and network time of use
  • Data usage and processing throughput
Then they took the overall energy used and looked at the location of the user to calculate their carbon footprint.  Location is one of the key factors because where you live affects how much energy is required to provide the online data.
So essentially the formula is based on:
  • Energy impact = time of use + data throughput
  • Carbon footprint = energy x location factors

SOURCE: Johnnie Walker

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