Monday, May 23, 2022

What local councils are missing in the fight against carbon emissions

OP ED by Clinton Keeler, Co-founder and CTO, Zella DC.

The state of the environment is a chief concern for most Australians. The climate crisis is not a problem of the future – it is already exacerbating the existing threats to our health and safety.

From intense hurricanes to rising floods to raging wildfires, we desperately need to do anything we can to address this problem.

Carbon dioxide is one of the leading gases contributing to global warming. To address our part in creating carbon dioxide, 100 Australian councils have joined together to declare a climate emergency and work on the local level to reduce emissions.

Local councils are at the perfect place to practically drive change. Thousands of Australian local councils and communities have led the charge in climate action. Local councils have worked to become carbon neutral by targeting transport, land regeneration, community energy, and building retrofits.

By working with local businesses and residents on projects, they have managed to mitigate millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas. However, these local councils have overlooked one of the most critical contributors to carbon emissions: data storage.

Data creates 3.7% of total carbon emission, equal to the entire airline industry. Plus, as more businesses turn to cloud computing, experts expect that number to double by 2025.

Australians contribute disproportionately to this carbon footprint. One study found that even 10 years ago, the average Australian internet user was responsible for emitting 81kg of carbon dioxide into the air.

If we want to impact carbon emissions significantly, we cannot overlook what we do with our data. If local councils wish to reach their goal of 2050 net zero emissions targets, they need to create an action plan to reduce data’s carbon footprint.

Working with local businesses to mitigate server inefficiencies, utilising natural cooling methods, and encouraging the use of micro data centres are critical first steps that we can take to address this growing crisis.

The time to act on data’s impact is now. Councils need to come together to create an action plan to lower data carbon emissions and encourage sustainable data practices.


Over a decade ago, Zella DC pioneered the micro data centre. Since then, its next-generation ‘server room in a box’ has been proven to work in the harshest environments worldwide. The result is a vendor-agnostic approach to software; hardware manufactured to global standards; and partners across six continents.

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