Published by The SubOptic Foundation, 2024
Co-authored by Hunter Vaughan (Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy) with Nicole Starosielski (Lead Author), Iago Bojczuk, Anne Pasek, George N. Ramírez, Nicholas R. Silcox and Anjali Sugadev
Over the past ten years, there has been a growing awareness of Internet infrastructure and its impacts on the planet. Researchers, policy-makers, and companies have all sought to assess and reduce the carbon emissions produced by Internet infrastructure, largely focused on data centers. Subsea telecommunications cables, which transport over 99% of all transoceanic data traffic via 1.4 million kilometers of cable globally, have remained almost entirely absent in these discussions. This omission is in part due to the relatively small carbon footprint of subsea cable systems. Indeed, subsea telecommunications cables have long been recognized as enabling a more sustainable future, providing opportunities for reduced travel, more efficient access to information, and enabling international climate-related science, in addition to underpinning the social and economic fabric of our world through global communications.