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Assessment of the climate impacts of a digital service

An assessment method and a simple calculator was developed for assessing the climate impacts of digital or digitized services. The development was carried out in a Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities project: Assessment of Environmental impacts caused by digitalization in public sector services. The project was implemented by KPMG Oy Ab, LUT University and the Finnish Environment Institute.

Due to the diversity of digital services and the scarcity of initial data, calculating climate impacts with a single calculator is not meaningful. A calculator for calculating the climate effects of simple online services has been implemented in this service. The possible development of similar calculators also for assessing other types of digital services requires separate further development.

This service is in trial use and changes are possible.

Steps in the assessment method

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1. IDENTIFICATION OF SIGNIFICANT CLIMATE IMPACTS

Identifying potential negative or positive climate impacts using checklist questions.

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2. CALCULATION OF CLIMATE IMPACTS

Collection and calculation of the necessary initial data.
Calculation of applicable services with a calculator. For other services, the help of an expert is needed.

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3. ASSESSMENT OF IMPROVEMENT POTENTIAL

Identifying and assessing potential improvements using a checklist.
The checklist of proposed measures can also be used without a preliminary impact assessment.



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1. IDENTIFICATION OF SIGNIFICANT CLIMATE IMPACTS

Identifying potential negative or positive climate impacts using checklist questions.


Select all questions to which you suspect the answer is yes, now or in the future.



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2. CALCULATION OF CLIMATE IMPACTS

Collection and calculation of the necessary initial data.
Calculation of applicable services with a calculator. For other services, the help of an expert is needed.


Calculation of climate impacts of a simple online service

The calculator can be used to estimate the climate effects for the service or part of the service as shown in the picture below. So far, this is the only type of service for which a simple calculation model has been prepared. Calculating the climate impacts of other services requires the help of an expert familiar with life cycle assessment.

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Service production:
  1. Equipment to develop and provide the service

  2. Devices used to provide the service via the network (e.g. application servers on site or in the cloud)

  3. The networks through which the service is delivered

Service consumption:
  1. The devices of the service user

  2. User's network connections


Information about the evaluated service


Equipment to develop and provide the service

How many person-years per year are used to maintain the service, produce content, facilitate and develop it?

Number of person-years
Equipment used by staff

The servers used to provide the service over the network on site or in the cloud
Web hosting
How many processors (CPU/vCPU) are reserved for the use of the service?
How many terabytes of disk space (SSD) have been reserved for the service?
Type of datacenter

How many gigabytes of data are transferred per month between the service and the users?

How many times per month is the service used on average?

User's devices

What proportion of users use the service on a phone instead of a computer?

Percentage of telephone users (%)

What is the average usage time in minutes?

Results


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3. ASSESSMENT OF IMPROVEMENT POTENTIAL

Identifying potential improvements using a checklist.
The checklist of proposed measures can also be used without a preliminary impact assessment.


Measures for assessing improvement potential in online services