Netflix commits to achieve net-zero emissions by end of 2022
The OTT content platform's strategy aligns with the latest guidance from Oxford University and the Science-Based Targets Initiative’s (SBTi) criteria
In a blog post, Netflix Sustainability Officer Emma Stewart said that the company will start first by reducing our internal emissions, aligning with the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C. "We will also reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 45% by 2030, based on the Science-Based Targets Initiative Guidance."
By the end of 2021, Netflix plans to neutralise Scope 3 emisions which can't be avoided internally by investing in projects that prevent carbon from entering the atmosphere. "We’ll start by conserving at-risk natural areas like tropical forests that are critical to meeting global climate goals."
It will incorporate investment in the regeneration of critical natural ecosystems to achieve net-zero by year-end 2022. These projects, such as restoring grasslands, mangroves, and healthy soils, capture and store carbon, in addition to other benefits.
Nature is at the heart of our commitment, as environmental leaders like Christiana Figueres tell us we can’t achieve climate goals without protecting and regenerating natural ecosystems. This approach buys us time to decarbonize our economy while restoring these life support systems, Stewart said.
Netflix's strategy aligns with the latest guidance from Oxford University and the Science-Based Targets Initiative’s (SBTi) criteria, where our program will achieve 10 out of 10 of SBTi’s recommended guidelines. "We joined the U.N.’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C group of companies, as well as America is All In, a consortium committed to execute against the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5ºC."
The platform's 2020 carbon footprint was 1,100,000 metric tons. Roughly half (50%) of that footprint was generated by the physical production of Netflix-branded films and series, whether we manage them directly (like The Midnight Sky), or through a third-party production company (like Our Planet and You vs. Wild). It also includes licenced content that is Netflix-branded (like My Octopus Teacher and Down to Earth with Zac Efron).
The remainder (45%) comes from corporate operations (like the offices it leases) and purchased goods (like the marketing spend). Content delivery network service availed from cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and the Open Connect to stream the service accounts for 5% of the footprint.
Netflix doesn't include emissions from internet transmission or electronic devices that its members use to watch Netflix. Internet service providers and device manufacturers have operational control over the design and manufacturing of their equipment, so ideally account for those emissions themselves.
"Still, we’ve joined a research effort called DIMPACT that is establishing consensus on how to measure the footprint of streaming and other internet uses. It’s led by the University of Bristol, where researchers have built a calculator tool we used to validate our own estimates, concluding that one hour of streaming on Netflix in 2020 to be well under 100gCO2e, equivalent to driving a gas-powered passenger vehicle a quarter mile (or 400 meters). These results are consistent with our peers and validated by our independent advisory group. Carbon Trust will publish a White Paper on the topic this spring. By better understanding the footprint of streaming, our industries can better reduce it," Stewart said.
She noted that in 2020 around 160 million households around the world chose to watch at least one film or show on Netflix that helped viewers better understand these issues.
"As examples, 100 million households have tuned in to Our Planet since its release in April 2019. The docuseries on the interdependency of Earth’s systems and living creatures, narrated by David Attenborough, won two Primetime Emmys, among other awards. Earlier this month My Octopus Teacher was nominated for an Oscar, following other wins," Stewart said.
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