Seminar Series on Digital Environmental Policies

The seminar is organized by Clément Marquet (CSI, Mines Paris – PSL, i3) and Sophie Quinton (Inria, GDS EcoInfo), as part of the Politiques environnementales du numérique [Digital Environmental Policies] working group of the GDR Internet, AI and Society.

The seminar will be held by videoconference. Participation is upon registration only.

For the past few years, the environmental consequences of digital technologies have been the subject of increasing attention [1], calling into question the promise of a convergence between ecological and digital transition. While these alerts are not altogether new [2], only recently have they attracted the attention of French political authorities [3]. This policy interest arises as the State and economic players invest massively in large-scale digital projects such as 5G, artificial intelligence, the autonomous vehicle and the Internet of Things. So many projects whose consequences cannot be accurately anticipated, but which in fact involve a proliferation of equipment and data. More generally, there still is a lack of in-depth reflection on the direct environmental impacts (energy and resource requirements, pollution, etc.) and indirect impacts (optimizations driving the overall increase in production and consumption, etc.) of digital technology.

Clément Marquet, “Interxion Par8 data center construction site, La Courneuve”, 2021, CC BY 4.0.

The relationship between digital technologies and the environment is political, in that it is bound up with technical and economic choices made in the name of values such as availability, security, speed, profit, etc. These choices lead to relationships with natural resources, biodiversity, and human health, which are barely visible to users because of the apparent ease of circulation of information and of the use of a vocabulary built around dematerialization, the cloud, etc.

Learn more about the Politiques environnementales du numérique [Digital Environmental Policy] working group and the issues that structure its discussions.

This working group intends to progressively build up a community of researchers contributing to environmental studies of digital technologies [4], in particular through the organization of seminars. To build this interdisciplinarity, the working group collaborates with the EcoInfo service group (GDS) [5], which has been involved since 2006 in the measurement of the environmental consequences of ICT and the creation of services aimed at reducing their negative impacts within higher education and research.

Seminar program 2022/23

November 17, 2022 – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
David Ekchajzer and Éric Fourboul (Boavizta / Hubblo). Mesurer l’impact environnemental du numérique : pourquoi, comment et avec quelles limites ? [Measuring the environmental impact of digital technologies: why, how and to what extent?]

December 15, 2022 – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Djilali Taïar (CDEP, Univ. d’Artois), La régulation environnementale du numérique en France [Environmental regulation of digital technology in France].

February 28, 2023 – 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Patrick Brodie (School of Information and Communication Studies at University College Dublin), Digital Infrastructures and Environmental Struggles in Ireland’s Borderlands.

March 9, 2023 – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Thomas Beauvisage (Sense, Orange Labs), et Jean-Samuel Beuscart (Département SES, Télécom Paris, i3), Mesurer l’empreinte environnementale du numérique : enjeux et controverses [Measuring the environmental footprint of digital technology: issues and controversies].

March 16, 2023 – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Session cancelled.
Jeanne Oui (IRISSO, IFRIS). Une gouvernance environnementale par les technologies numériques. Le cas de l’agriculture céréalière [Environmental governance through digital technologies. The case of cereal farming].

April 20, 2023 – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Stéphane Crozat (Costech, Université de technologie de Compiègne). Low-technicisation et numérique [Low-technicisation and digital technologies].

May 10, 2023 – 10:30 am to 12 pm. Hybrid event held by videoconference and at IRISSO (CNRS, INRAE, Dauphine-PSL), 59-61 rue Pouchet, Paris 17e, room 255.
Christo Sims (Communication Department, University of California, San Diego). Green Magic: Enchantment Technologies at Apple Headquarters. This session is co-organized with the GdT Capitalisme numérique et idéologies [Working Group Digital Capitalism and Ideologies] and IRISSO (CNRS, INRAE, Dauphine-PSL). Please register here.

May 17, 2023 – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Fanny Lopez (LIAT/ Eavt Paris Est). Les spatialités énergétiques du numérique [The energetic spatialities of digital technologies].

June 15, 2023 – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Anne-Laure Ligozat (LISN, ENSIEE) and Aina Rasoldier (INRIA). Que sait-on du potentiel des technologies numériques pour soutenir la transition écologique ? [What is known of the potential contribution of digital technologies to support the ecological transition?].

[1] See for instance TheShiftProject 2018 and the GreenIT 2019 reports.

[2]  Flipo Fabrice, Michel Dobré, Marion Michot, La face cachée du numérique, Montreuil, Éditions L’échappée, 2013.

[3] In 2020, the French Senate launched a mission on the environmental footprint of digital technology, which, according to Hervé Maurey, chairman of the committee, “has not yet been the subject of parliamentary work and is giving rise to a gradual awareness.” At the same time, the National Digital Council and the High Council for the Climate were asked by Elisabeth Borne, then Minister of Ecological Transition and Solidarity, and Cedric O, then Secretary of State for the Digital Economy, to draw up a roadmap with a dual objective: “to reduce the environmental footprint of digital technology in order to create a sustainable digital economy, and to turn digital technology into a driver of ecological transition and solidarity”.

[4] Ensmenger Nathan, “The Environmental History of Computing”, Technology and Culture, 2018, 59, 4S, p. S7-S33 ; Shriver-Rice Meryl, Hunter Vaughan, “What is Environmental Media Studies”, Journal of Environmental Media, 2020, 1, 1, p. 3-13.