Sustainable Streaming Services Lead Industry Into Carbon-Free Future

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As part of its 2021 sustainability plan, “Net-Zero +Nature,” Netflix aims to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2022, meaning that the company will keep emitting while also investing in offset projects that reduce atmospheric CO2 levels—things like forest preservation across the globe. As Netflix does this, it will strive for a 45% reduction in internal emissions by 2030, a goal that aligns with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s guidelines.

Offset projects like this one are not a solve-all favorite among environmentalists, as they allow polluters to keep emitting, while often poorer groups take on most of the costs (often the costs of not developing forestland, now protected as offsets). Eric Niller, a contributor to Wired, explained this conflict well: “What offsets don’t do is force their buyer to change any of its operations,” he wrote in a 2020 piece for the magazine, adding: “Supporters of offsets say they are only an acceptable tool once companies have done everything they can to pollute less.” This, of course, is what Netflix’s Net-Zero-Nature plan outlines on a 2030 timeline.

Yet, Netflix’s sustainability mission has a larger impact beyond reducing direct emissions; “I think the partner universe that Netflix sits inside has been mobilized,” said Clinton Moloney, managing director of sustainability solutions at Engie Impact, who worked with Netflix to create these goals.

Moloney explained the impact this announcement has had on Netflix’s suppliers and partners, mobilizing them to meet those carbon emission reductions if they are to keep working with the streaming giant.

gradient-quote Netflix has a very big supplier base and partner base, so they're then able to go and say to those suppliers ‘Our commitment is not 2030, it is 2022. So, I need you to go back and figure out how you're going to help us — not by 2030. We've got like 12 to 18 months so you have to do it now. gradient-quote-right
Clinton Moloney, Managing Director, Sustainability Solutions

Moloney explained that the more large, resourced companies like Netflix adopt sustainable practices, the more widespread, affordable, and accessible they will be for all companies to do the same.

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