Our climate needs to be stabilized at no more than a 1.5ºC temperature rise to avoid the worst results of climate change and ensure healthy life support systems for our children, as per the scientists worldwide. To help reach this goal, Netflix claims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022 and every year thereafter. The plan called Net Zero + Nature assures:
1. Reduce our emissions
2. Retain existing carbon storage
3. Remove carbon from the atmosphere
This approach buys us time to decarbonize our economy, while restoring these life support systems. For example, the Lightning Creek Ranch project in Oregon shows our ‘Retain’ goal in practice with our investment helping preserve North America’s largest bunchgrass prairie. In Kenya, we’re supporting the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, protecting the dry land forest that’s home to hundreds of endangered species and provides local residents alternative incomes to unsustainable activities like poaching.
Our strategy aligns with the latest guidance from Oxford University and the Science Based Targets Initiative’s (SBTi) criteria, where our program will achieve 10 out of 10 of SBTi’s recommended guidelines. We joined the U.N.’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C group of companies, as well as America is All In, a consortium committed to execute against the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5ºC.
The advice of more than 60+ experts shaped our strategy, from researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to renewable energy and sustainable aviation experts at Engie Impact, to policy pros at Natural Resources Defense Council. We also formed an independent advisory group of experts who volunteer their time to counsel and provoke us.
Our 2020 carbon footprint was 1,100,000 metric tons. Roughly half (50%) of that footprint was generated by the physical production of Netflix branded films and series, whether we manage them directly (like The Midnight Sky), or through a third party production company (like Our Planet and You vs. Wild). It also includes content we license that is Netflix branded (like My Octopus Teacher and Down to Earth with Zac Efron).
The remainder (45%) comes from our corporate operations (like the offices we lease) and purchased goods (like our marketing spend). Also, we use cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and the Open Connect content delivery network to stream our service. These account for 5% of our footprint.
We don’t include emissions from internet transmission or electronic devices our members use to watch Netflix. Internet service providers and device manufacturers have operational control over the design and manufacturing of their equipment, so ideally account for those emissions themselves.
Still, we’ve joined a research effort called DIMPACT that is establishing consensus on how to measure the footprint of streaming and other internet uses.
In 2020, 160 million households around the world chose to watch at least one film or show on Netflix that helped viewers better understand these issues. As examples, 100 million households have tuned in to Our Planet since its release in April 2019. The docu series on the interdependency of Earth’s systems and living creatures, narrated by David Attenborough, won two Primetime Emmys, among other awards. Earlier this month My Octopus Teacher was nominated for an Oscar, following other wins.