5G likely to “significantly increase” the carbon footprint

    5G likely to “significantly increase” the carbon footprint

    Artem Peretiatko via Getty ImagesA man on top of a mountain.

    ENVIRONMENT – The High Council for the Climate is sounding the alarm. In a report made public this Saturday, December 19, the independent advisory body is concerned about the impact on the environment linked to the scheduled deployment of 5G.

    “In the absence of a moratorium on 5G allowing to reassess the decision concerning the frequencies already distributed, the first application of such an evaluation will have to be the allocation of the next frequency bands for 5G”, writes the HCC in a report drawn up at the request of the President of the Senate Gérard Larcher.

    The Citizen’s Climate Convention, desired by the President of the Republic, had specifically recommended a moratorium on the deployment of 5G pending such a study. Request curtly rejected by Emmanuel Macron as a “return to the oil lamp”.

    During a meeting with the members of the Convention earlier this week, Emmanuel Macron had maintained his support for 5G, essential according to him to the economic development of the country. But he also wanted to be “assessed the environmental cost” of digital technology globally, pointing in particular to the “permanent renewal of equipment (…) very polluting”.

    Increase in electricity consumption

    In its report, the HCC studies several hypotheses on the impacts of the deployment of 5G, while stressing that its own work “cannot replace a complete assessment of all the environmental, health, economic, financial and social impacts, which should have taken place beforehand ”.

    But he already estimates that “5G is likely to significantly increase” the carbon footprint of the digital sector, which currently represents around 2% of France’s total footprint, or roughly as much as the aviation sector, noted climatologist Corinne Le Quéré, president of the HCC, during an online press conference.

    An increase caused in particular by the inclusion of emissions linked to the manufacture of equipment abroad (so-called “imported” emissions). In its high assessment, the “carbon impact” of 5G would thus be in 2030 for a little more than half linked to terminals – smartphones, computers, etc. -, a quarter to infrastructure and a quarter to use. .

    5G should also lead to an increase in electricity consumption, which in France is largely carbon-free due in particular to nuclear power.

    The HCC, an independent advisory and assessment body created by Emmanuel Macron, recommends in particular to include commitments on the carbon footprint in the next calls for tenders for future 5G frequencies and to act on the offer of ” equipment to reduce its environmental impact.

    What about the positives?

    It also wishes to “inform and empower” users, both individuals and businesses. “There are disproportionate uses, like high definition video on the phone. The prioritization of uses must be brought into the public debate, ”said Corinne Le Quéré, also pointing to certain unlimited offers that can lead to“ waste ”.

    Finally, among the potential impacts, the HCC recommends paying particular attention to the possible interference of certain bands (not yet allocated in France) of 5G with satellite readings, which worry meteorologists.

    According to a government source, the HCC draws up a “shared report” on the issue of equipment, already put forward by Emmanuel Macron before the Climate Convention and which will be addressed in particular in a government “roadmap” expected in February.

    On the other hand, the report “does not take into account certain positive aspects” expected on the optimization of transport or agriculture and anticipates an unconfirmed deployment of certain frequencies, according to this source.

    The presidency of the Senate, commissioner of the report, for its part considered that the conclusions “confirm” a bill “aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of digital technology” that the upper assembly must examine on January 12.

    See also on The HuffPost: In England, cows are testing 5G

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