DATA SERVER
Millions of servers at data centres across the globe consume billion kilowatts of hours annually, making it necessary to reduce the load on them or make a shift to renewable energy soon.REUTERS

Electrolux has unveiled a free web-based tool --World Wide Vac -- to help people eliminate carbon emissions from junk in e-mail accounts.

Electrolux says its tool relies on Google's calculations that the average Gmail user is responsible for 2.6 pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions per year.

A disorganised inbox with half a million mails, half of which are old and unopened, and a quarter social or promotional, could generate digital dust that adds up to 94 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to driving a car 735 kilometres.

The tool runs through the account and calculates carbon generated by electricity used by the server to maintain the storage space, reports Climate Central.

"Every year as we surf the internet, send e-mails and share images we release as much 830 million tons of CO2, which is on-par with the whole aviation industry," Electrolux says in its promotional material.

While this is tagged onto a promotional campaign for Electrolux's new energy-efficient UltraFlex bagless vacuum cleaner, highlighting the company's pledge to cut its emissions 50% by 2020, it also serves as a reminder of how electricity consumption is central to our lifestyles today.

Energy required to power and cool the millions of servers supporting the internet has doubled in the past five years and is growing fast.

In the US alone, data centres consumed 91 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in 2013.

At present rates, within a decade it is expected that servers globally will demand more electricity than what is used annually by Japan and Germany combined, according to a report by the Digital Power Group.

Greenpeace has been pushing for a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy to power the data centres and their servers.

Google currently sources about 35% of its energy from clean power and has committed to a goal of 100%.

With a population of 8.5 billion predicted by 2035, the electricity demand will go up by 80%. The IEA has predicted that electricity demand will go up primarily due to a growing addiction to air-conditioning and electric vehicles.

The latest IPCC report on climate change has warned that unless the shift to renewable energy is complete by the end of the century, irreversible change will have devastating consequences on the planet.