Critical issues presentations/Going green: How we can reduce the environmental impact of Wikipedia

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Submission no. 145
Title of the submission

Going green: How we can reduce the environmental impact of Wikipedia

Author of the submission
  • Lukas Mezger
  • Andrea Zanni
Country of origin

Germany; Italy


Governance, Technical

  • Wikimedia servers
  • green energy
  • carbon footprint
  • environment
  • Wikimedia Foundation

The environmental impact of Wikipedia is bigger than most people think. Running one of the most popular websites in the world, the Wikimedia movement has a significant carbon footprint: Today, only one of the Wikimedia Foundation's data centers is powered by renewable energy and 81 % of Wikipedia's energy still comes from coal, gas, and nuclear power.

In 2015, Wikimedia received a "D" score in a report issued by Greenpeace, only receiving a passing grade because of its high energy transparency. Commercial services such as Yahoo or Google scored far better, with Apple even receiving a perfect “A” for using 100 % green energy and being highly transparent about and committed to a low carbon footprint.

With its powerful brand, the Wikimedia movement can also show green leadership in the online sector even though it does not have a massive electricity load compared to other high-traffic sites like Google or Facebook.

Following the Greenpeace report, a few community members came together to think about ways to reduce the environmental impact of the Wikimedia movement. Currently, discussions are under way to implement these ideas into the Wikimedia Foundation's policies.

This talk will address the following points:

1) An analysis of the current situation: How badly are we doing today? How much energy is actually used in the Wikimedia movement? What is the current Wikimedia Foundation policy for energy consumption?

2) Ways for community-driven improvement: How can the Wikimedia community and the Wikimedia Foundation work together, maybe with the help of third-party organizations, in order to reduce the environmental impact of the Wikimedia movement?

3) An introduction to the idea of a green energy commitment: What is a green energy commitment and what can it achieve? What are best practice cases in the online sector?

4) A discussion of a possible green investment strategy for the Wikimedia Foundation's endowment: Should we and can we afford to not invest in carbon-intensive industries?

The talk is aimed at community members and Wikimedia staff with an interest in environmental issues, Wikimedia server administration, or Wikimedia movement policy.


Not accepted