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Towards a fossil free internet – the fog of enactment, and a request for comments

Earlier this month, we made the first report in a series of publications about digital sustainability and transitioning the internet from fossil fuels available for comments. This was our first report we have published as a non profit – read on to find out why we commissioned it.

Why we started publishing longer form content

As our changing climate increasingly becomes impossible to ignore, attention is being paid to every sector and how best to decarbonise it – including the digital sector itself.

While some of this manifests as an explosion of climate commitments from companies large and small, in the last 12 months we have seen changes in regulation and policy that change the incentives for the rest of the industry too.

With the Towards a Fossil Free Internet series, our goal is to provide a useful background guide for technology practitioners, policy makers, and budget holders who are engaging with the subject of sustainability in the digital realm for the first time.

In the first of these reports, we introduce a term the report is named after – the Fog of Enactment .

The Fog of Enactment describes the uncertainty that comes after significant public attention and announcements, where new laws are being made, or markets are being restructured, and where the impacts of these changes is not yet well understood.

In domains with much uncertainty, where innovation is common and the expertise is highly technical such as the digital sector, you can expect groups to use this ambiguity to shape the field to their advantage. In other sectors, there are plenty of cases this has lead to outcomes that are at odds with the original intent of the policy announcements.

We believe we are in the Fog of Enactment phase when it comes to the now growing field of digital sustainability, and this report highlight gaps in our knowledge, as well gaps in the evidence we are basing decisions with far reaching consequences on.

Web first reports and requests for comments

We are the Green Web Foundation, and this is our first published report, so we’ve taken a few steps to make this a web-first report. We’ll cover these in more detail in a future post, but in the meantime, as we’re treating this like a beta launch, where we invite readers to interact with the content of the report – and share feedback with us using the in-line commentary tools on the page.

As you read the report, it’s possible to highlight and comment on any content you see on the page, like the screenshot below. This should work on mobile and desktop computers, and relies on Hypothesis, a freely available open source web annotation tool, that we’ve built into this page.

Screenshot showing how to use hypothesis to highlight and annotate content.

Later in February, when we officially launch this report, we’ll summarise and respond to the key feedback we receive on this blog.

We hope you find the report useful and informative – you can go read it, and see the our other publications on our new publications page.