Towards a unified methodology to measure CO2 emission in the European audiovisual sector

In the framework of the Media and Audiovisual Action Plan adopted by the European Commission in December 2020, Workflowers is involved in the development of a unified methodology to measure CO2 emissions of the sector

The European media and audiovisual world has started slowly but surely its ecological redirection. European climate law, the COVID crisis, the progressive commitment of the players,  let’s go back to the context that has allowed this transition to emerge.

European climate law and the COVID crisis, the first steps towards a transition in the audiovisual sector

In March 2020, the European Commission adopted the first European climate law proposal following the guidelines of the Paris Agreements. It sets an ambitious and binding climate target for the Union, aiming to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

This first legislative proposal comes in the particular context of the COVID crisis, which is having a major impact on the European media and audiovisual sector.

Already in difficulty compared to their global competitors, particularly due to market fragmentation, the sector’s weaknesses are exacerbated by the COVID crisis, with declining advertising revenues, the collapse of cinemas and the sidelining of production. The crisis has also accelerated major trends long underway in digital technologies. Streaming platforms such as Netflix or Disney+ have strengthened their market position, launched new services and attracted new audiences during periods of lockdown. On the other hand, social media like TikTok, largely based on audiovisual content, have broken records for downloads, especially among young users. 

In parallel to the crisis, climate issues are making their way into the sector’s scope of attention. In France, at the end of 2020, major players announced their willingness to engage in an ecological transformation, such as the Altice group, which communicated on its global action plan for the ecological transition, or a consortium of groups including M6, TF1 and NRJ, which announced their common desire to conclude a “media climate contract” under the aegis and control of the CSA (French Higher Audiovisual Council ) in order to “make the ecological transition compatible with the maintenance of sovereign creative industries in France”. Faced with both health and climate issues, the European Commission is committed to providing answers to European media in order to help them remain competitive by stimulating investments to face the dual digital and ecological transition. The European Media and Audiovisual Plan (MAAP) will be launched in December 2020.

The European Media and Audiovisual Plan, a roadmap for the sector’s ecological transition

“Towards a climate-neutral audiovisual sector”, the MAAP clearly announces the color in its “Action 6”, the European media must mobilize to reduce their emissions. 

This directive is in line with the objectives of the European climate law, by proposing answers to the significant environmental impact of the sector which, unlike many other industries in Europe, sees its CO2 emissions constantly increasing, due to the increase in media consumption, especially via streaming platforms (more than 60% of internet flows).

In addition, it aims to address a major issue that is holding back the sector’s transition: the lack of a unified and coordinated response. The current measurement of the sector’s emissions, with different calculators per country or even per company, does not allow for comparison of results or the identification of best practices. It is the more operational integration of climate issues through measurement methods, tools, KPIs and common ecological standards at the European level, which will allow media and audiovisual actors to reduce their emissions more rapidly. 

A response from the audiovisual world is not long in coming. As of 2021, several big names have announced their carbon neutrality objectives, including ITV, Netflix, the BBC and Skynews. In France, the CNC (National Centre for Cinematography) is launching a three-year plan to adapt the film, audiovisual and video game industries to environmental issues.If these individual initiatives testify to the new ecological ambitions of the sector, they are not yet part of the objective of a unified European response of the media to ecological issues. 

Workflowers, an actor in the common work towards a unified methodology for measuring emissions

A working group is launched in june 2021, gathering representatives of the public sector and broadcasting professionals. Workflowers and all mandated organizations (Albert, Ecoprod, Eureca, KU Leuven, MFG, Philip Gassmann, Pro Malaga, European Audiovisual Observatory) are committed to build together a unified methodology to measure CO2 emissions that will have to meet a set of criteria including : Being open source, broadening access to a simple and easy set of minimum standards in the 27 EU countries, harmonizing the data on which carbon factors and benchmarks are based, relying on identical carbon factors and benchmarks etc.

The objective is to respond to the MAAP directive and thus share best practices, by agreeing on common tools and “green” standards, in order to engage the participation of all sector players in a co-construction process at the European level.

In order to formalize their commitments, Workflowers and the other organizations have recently co-signed the “common statement“, fruit of this ongoing collaboration.

At Workflowers, we are convinced that the dynamics of ecological transformation of the media and audiovisual sector can only be achieved by engaging the participation of all the actors of the sector in a common approach, that’s why we take part in this working group. The action of the EU and in particular that of the CNECT (Communications Networks, Content and Technology) is in this context essential to promote an ambitious decarbonization of the sector.

If the train is on the move, it is essential that the momentum continues and that a growing number of media and audiovisual players mobilize at the European and international levels. 

We hope that the conclusions of the working group will help accelerate the global transition of the sector. To find all the information on the construction of this new methodology, consult the “Common statement”.

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