Welcome tocarbon neutralmobile and internet.

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What’s yourCarbon Thumbprint?

Mobile data networks in Australia are estimated to create more than half a million tonnes of CO2 every year. Your estimated portion – the CO2 created by your mobile network data usage – is your Carbon Thumbprint.

To estimate yours, download the Carbon Thumbprint app.

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don’t raise your voice an old woman warns
before she slips into the earth. silent we stand

at her graveside until free from obligation
we race to the city. my voice is muted here

amongst the bustle of breathing congealed
to one sound raised in self-flagellation for

grandeur. factories stream palls of pollution
and we have forgotten polluted smoke will

always leave a message. we trust only in the
messages we touch with our hands on glowing
screens that blur our eyes, our feet in routine
as the generations move to their own desires,
a volume increasing with need. stumbling we

return to memory of her cloud-like voice,
the weather in her every word. once more

we stand silent at her graveside. we stare

at the ground. we are listening to the earth.

Ali Cobby Eckermann

Windham-Campbell Prize winner

Photograph of poet Ali Cobby Eckermann

Behindthe CarbonThumbprint.

Your Carbon Thumbprint is the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) released into the atmosphere as a result of powering infrastructure and operations that are necessary to enable mobile data use, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Your Carbon Thumbprint includes emissions associated with key mobile network infrastructure (e.g. towers and cables) but excludes the actual mobile phone itself (e.g. manufacture and charging).

It’s a simple way to quantify the environmental impact of mobile usage.

The Carbon Thumbprint is an estimate and will vary depending on precise usage, telecommunications network provider, location, and other variables.
We start by measuring the annual GHG emissions that are caused in the provision and use by customers of Belong’s mobile plans, including emissions associated with the powering and operation of mobile network infrastructure. We use this measurement as a baseline for all Australian mobile data networks. Belong’s annual GHG footprint for the year ended 30 June 2019 can be found in our Government certified Climate Active submission, available online here.

We then divide the annual GHG emissions by the amount of annual usage data that passes through Belong’s mobile network at a per megabyte (MB) rate. This calculation provides us with a ‘carbon intensity’ figure, denoted in carbon-dioxide-equivalent (CO2-e) emitted per MB used. We also sense-check this figure with Telstra’s network carbon intensity figure derived from their sustainability reporting here.

To estimate your personal ‘thumbprint’ we apply this carbon intensity figure to your specific MB usage. Our app asks you a series of questions about your mobile data usage to determine your estimated personal data usage. Note that this thumbprint result is an estimate and will vary depending on precise usage, telecommunications network provider, location, and other variables.

MB data usage statistics for different mobile activities (e.g. emails, streaming etc.) have been obtained from Telstra and Finder’s public usage calculators.
The climate impacts of internet use are not widely known or considered by the public. The Carbon Thumbprint is a simple way to quantify the environmental impact of mobile usage. By calculating Carbon Thumbprints, we can help everyone understand the impacts of their daily habits and help push the telco industry towards a greener future.

Check out the below to see the calculations used to estimate the Carbon Thumbprint and campaign pieces.

How did we calculate Australia’s estimated Carbon Thumbprint of over half a million tonnes of CO2 ?

The calculation of Australia’s total Carbon Thumbprint has been derived from a collection of public information, as well as information relating to Telstra’s business. In some cases, information has been extrapolated across different time horizons using different information sources. As such, these estimates should be regarded as indicative.
Unit of MeasureQuantumNote
Number of smartphone devices in AustraliaMillions17M(a)
Data usage per deviceGB per device p.a.90(b)
Carbon intensity of general data usageg per MB0.49(c)
Carbon per user (based on carbon intensity of general data usage)t CO2e p.a.0.04(d)
Total emissions from smartphone data usage in Australia
Assuming Telstra carbon intensity for general data usaget CO2e p.a.0.7M(e)
Adjustments to reach a mobile-specific, carrier agnostic figure30%(f)
Bottom of estimation ranget CO2e p.a.0.5M(g)

(a) Newzoo research, "Global mobile market report 2018" referenced by GSMA in their report "The Enablement Effect" published in Dec 2019.

(b) Telegeography research, which shows that average mobile data usage per Australian user per month is ~7.5 GB; this equates to ~90 GB per user per annum.

(c) This is Telstra’s carbon intensity derived from information in their sustainability reporting and Carbon Disclosure Project submission. This is based on total data transmission, and is not specific to mobile data. The GHG emissions capture Scope 1, 2 and 3 (including purchased goods, waste, business travel, etc). This has also been sense-checked against data provided in support of Belong’s Climate Active certification.

(d) Application of the Telstra carbon intensity (c) to data usage per device (b).

(e) Estimated carbon intensity per device based on Telstra’s general carbon intensity (d), multiplied by total devices in Australia (a).

(f) The carbon intensity used to calculate (e) is based on Telstra’s general activities. A number of adjustments have been made to reflect the estimation error likely to be associated with the calculation for mobile data, including: (i) the fact that mobile data tends to be less carbon intensive; (ii) the separation of emissions associated with consumer data usage (compared to large enterprise usage); (iii) conservative adjustments to reflect the lack of carbon intensity information for other mobile carriers; (iv) estimation error associated with the use of disparate data sources relating to data usage, total devices and carbon intensity.

(g) This is the estimated "minimum" level of emissions associated with mobile data in Australia, reflecting the impact of adjustments in (f).

This is an important area of study which should be supported by more precise research. If you have any questions, criticisms or suggestions for our estimation of the carbon thumbprint, please email carbonthumbprint@team.belong.com.au.

What other sources have been used?

Below are the external data sources used in the Carbon Thumbprint app and our campaign which you may see online.

Check out the ‘How do you calculate a Carbon Thumbprint?’ section to learn how we calculated your estimated Carbon Thumbprint and how Belong derive a carbon intensity figure.

Data assumptions

MB data usage statistics for different mobile activities (e.g. emails, streaming etc.) have been obtained from Telstra and Finder’s public usage calculators:

Average MB per activity

ActivityVariableMB/minCalculationResultSource
Standard video streamingVideo Streaming MB per minute9.5/minN/A, listed on source9.5MB/minhttps://www.telstra.com.au/mobile-phones/data-usage-calculator
Spotify/music streamingAudio Streaming MB per minute2.5/minN/A, listed on source2.5MB/minhttps://www.telstra.com.au/mobile-phones/data-usage-calculator
Sending/receiving emailEmails MB each0.5/emailN/A, listed on source0.5MB/emailhttps://www.telstra.com.au/mobile-phones/data-usage-calculator
Download an appApps Download MB each35/appN/A, listed on source35MB/apphttps://www.telstra.com.au/mobile-phones/data-usage-calculator
Facebook/SnapchatSocial MB per minute150/hour150/60 = 2.5MB/min2.5MB/minhttps://www.finder.com.au/mobile-data-usage-calculator
Video callingVideo Calls MB per minute100/hour100/60 = 1.7MB/min1.7MB/minhttps://www.finder.com.au/mobile-data-usage-calculator

Other campaign communications

We currently have a variety of communications in market which incorporate some data and we’d like to share our sources with you.

These calculations take into consideration [average activity duration / frequency] x [average MB for an activity per minute / per event] = data usage estimate (MB per activity). We then take that figure and multiply it by Belong’s carbon intensity figure (g CO2e per MB).

ActivityData assumptions usedSource
YouTube videoAverage length of YT video is 11.7 mins at 9.5MB/min for video streaminghttps://www.statista.com/statistics/1026923/youtube-video-category-average-length/
Streaming a songAverage Spotify song duration is 3.5mins at 2.5MB/min for audio streaminghttps://qz.com/1519823/is-spotify-making-songs-shorter/
Instagram storyInstagram stories have a duration of 15s (0.25 of a minute) at 12.5MB/minute (750MB/hour)https://wave.video/blog/Instagram-story-video/https://www.finder.com.au/mobile-data-usage-calculator
Loading a websiteThe average size of a website is 1.778MB for mobilehttps://www.machmetrics.com/speed-blog/average-page-load-times-for-2020/
PodcastThe average podcast duration is 41.5 minutes at approximately 1MB/minhttps://blog.pacific-content.com/podcast-episodes-got-shorter-in-2019-69e1f3b6c82fhttps://www.whistleout.com.au/MobilePhones/Guides/Mobile-broadband-usage-guide#:~:text=Podcasts%20use%20approximately%2060MB%20per,use%20about%2040MB%20of%20data

Belong is a division of Telstra Corporation Limited ABN 33 051 775 556.