5G is coming with great noise and with many detractors. Because yes, the development of 5G and its use will, among other advantages and disadvantages, increase the carbon footprint exponentially.
Because despite what operators claim, the HCC estimates that the digital carbon impact linked to the deployment of 5G could represent between 2.7 million tonnes (Mt) and 6.7 Mt of CO2 equivalent in 2030. It is valued today at 15Mt of CO2 equivalent in 2020, i.e. 2% of the total carbon footprint in France.
The environmental cost therefore risks being, according to experts, very high. This is in particular due to the energy consumption of the network itself, which will increase dramatically, but also to the development and manufacture of new technical equipment such as network infrastructures but also smartphones. Because, users will have to change their mobile phones to acquire new ones, adapted to 5G. It will therefore be necessary to manufacture new ones, thus considerably increasing the consumption of scarce resources.
So of course we cannot refuse, reject the technological advances necessary for the evolution of our society. But we cannot accept the impact of these developments on our climate either. However, global warming is accelerating dangerously. When we know that today a French person alone generates the equivalent of 7 Mt of CO2 per year, this means that to meet the objectives set by the Paris Agreement (i.e. do not exceed a warming of + 2 ° C), you must significantly limit your footprint to a maximum of 2 Mt of CO2 per year.
We must therefore both reduce our footprint and find “offsets” for these greenhouse gas emissions, a real time bomb of global warming. This means putting in place actions that bring environmental benefits, that each person, each company “offsets” its CO2 emissions with beneficial actions. For example, extending the life of our computer / electronic equipment (cells, batteries, accumulators, electronic chips…) and changing them as little as possible (keep them at least 4 years). Favor the purchase of recycled or reconditioned products rather than new, repair instead of throwing away, put your devices on standby but also turn them off when not in use or empty your mailbox… All these gestures are already a good start and are imperative.
But all this is not enough. It is a first step and the minimum that we can take to preserve our planet. But we must also act broadly and be associated with large-scale programs. Large industrial behemoths have already embarked on the reforestation race, for example by financing tree planting and reforestation programs. An effective way to absorb some of the greenhouse gases. So planting trees yes, but they should not be planted anywhere but in strategic, specific and sustainable places.
Even if the forest remains an important tool for climate regulation, reforestation alone does not mean that we can avoid all responsibility for carbon-emitting actions. It must necessarily be accompanied by more virtuous behavior, by a significant upstream reduction in the quantity of CO2 used by economies and by the financing of the energy transition. We are all actors and responsible for our future, it is up to us to invest ourselves and to give ourselves the means to welcome new advances with dignity while preserving the planet.