Narrative Futures is a series of different future scenarios created to spark inspiration on how we can shape the digital future in a collaborative, sustainable and equal way. We set out to break with current narratives that are introduced by Big Tech. Our goal is to reclaim digital infrastructure in the public interest – and start a conversation about how get there. Each starts with a potential future (🚀) and the current problem. (📌)

“Green inside?! The carbon footprint audit”

September, 18th 2033 – The growth of the tech sector and the ubiquity of its services and products has led to calls for a more critical, transparent assessment of its climate impact. As part of their environmental sustainability efforts, a group of climate action funders is working on increasing transparency on the carbon footprint of digital infrastructure and tools. With this work, they help people to make informed choices about what digital tools they use. Their approach is brand new: supporting tech projects with a carbon footprint audit that helps developer teams to improve their products – and shows transparently and publicly who makes tackling climate change their first priority.
2022: Assessing the carbon footprint of digital tools still contains a lot of guesswork. There is a lack of data, and technologies develop so rapidly that one-time analyses of their climate impact have a very short shelf life. What is certain, however: With the growth of the tech sector, its carbon footprint grows as well. Because there is so little information about the climate impact of digital applications, consumers have a hard time actively choosing climate-friendly applications or dunking those with a high impact. The result: A lack of incentives for developers to build lean, low-energy, low-resource technology. The topic of green tech will become ever more pressing in the upcoming years – when technologies like web3 and AR prevail.


  • Carbon emissions of digital technologies are currently not publicly discussed, with few exceptions (e.g. video streaming, NFTs).
  • There is a lack of audits that explicitly and repeatedly analyze the carbon footprint of digital technologies.
  • It is much more difficult to analyze the carbon footprint of proprietary services than to open source tools. Wider use of open source would not only improve transparency with regard to the security of an application but also allow for external climate impact assessments.

Starting points:

  • Expertise in tech as well as in climate impact analysis is needed to achieve more transparency of carbon footprints of digital infrastructure. Climate action funders share their expertise with the open-source sector and vice versa.
  • Because carbon emissions are not widely discussed, many web technologies and applications have become bloated and resource-intensive. Tech funders incentivize low, lean tech instead and make the carbon footprint a criterion for their funding decisions.
  • Climate funders invest in open-source technologies to strengthen the sector and promote use of open source infrastructure.