This was a commitment made by Le Monde when adopting its Climate charter

If we compare it to the previous one, which covered the 2019 financial year, the progress is undeniable: on an equal basis, the carbon footprint of the press group goes from 41,374 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions in 2019 to 29,461 tonnes in 2022, a drop of 29%. In the meantime, the digital transformation of the titles concerned continued and the teams of the Le Monde group and L’Obs moved in 2020 into a new building, certified High Environmental Quality (HQE) operating at “excellent” level.

As a reminder, the Le Monde group brings together Courrier International, HuffPost, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, Télérama and La Vie, as well as an advertising agency (M Publicité) and a subsidiary bringing together cross-functional functions (VM Magazines). L’Obs, a “cousin” title because it belongs to the same shareholders as the Le Monde group and shares the latter’s headquarters, was included in the calculation of the carbon footprint.

Where things get complicated (a little) is that this carbon footprint takes into account new elements, notably the weight of the manufacturing of digital equipment and their use by readers, with the aim of having a more global and complete vision of emissions linked to the company’s activity. We will see below that this is far from being neutral. Over this expanded scope, the carbon footprint of the Le Monde group and L’Obs increases to 67,420 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2022. Roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of 6,700 French people. The World itself weighs 40,722 tons, or 60%, of this total.

This carbon footprint allows us to answer a question asked by both the Le Monde group teams and those who read our titles: paper and digital, which emits the most greenhouse gases? If we take the scope of the World alone (printed daily newspaper, site and applications), the result is quite clear: digital activity represents 62% of its carbon footprint (for 80% of its paid distribution) and paper activity 28% (for 20% of the paid circulation), the balance (10%) relating to the functioning of the World.

Conclusion: digital is more demanding in absolute value, but if we relate the carbon footprint of each method of distribution to its weight in the readership of Le Monde, a printed copy has more impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions greenhouse than reading on digital media.

This new report also makes it possible to measure the carbon footprint of the devices used by our readers to read Le Monde. The calculation takes into account the entire life cycle of these computers, tablets or smartphones, but is carried out in proportion to the time spent reading Le Monde in relation to the other activities in which their owners engage on these terminals.

And the result is impressive to say the least: 38% of the total carbon footprint of the Le Monde group is produced by this reading phase of its editorial productions. Please note: this is not about shifting our responsibilities to those who read us, but about having a global vision of the impact of our activity on greenhouse gas emissions. The other important item in the digital activity of the Le Monde group is made up of the transfer of data to users (10% of the overall carbon footprint), their storage in data centers only representing around 2% of the total.

As for printed media, the main source of emissions remains the purchase of paper, which accounts for 24% of the carbon footprint of the Le Monde group, knowing that unlike the daily newspaper, the distribution of the group’s weeklies is still mostly on paper. The distribution of printed newspapers represents around 5% of the carbon footprint. As for the travel of the group’s employees (mainly reporting and commuting), they account for less than 4% of the overall figure.

The Le Monde group has already set a trajectory for reducing its carbon footprint by 2025. Among the avenues taken by digital technology: reducing the weight of data and migrating to data centers operating at 100% from renewable energy. Concerning the paper activity: the transition to a fleet of own vehicles for service providers responsible for transporting newspapers and the reduction in the proportion of unsold copies.

In terms of the group’s operations, actions aimed at extending the lifespan of electronic equipment have been launched. Measures that readers of Le Monde group titles can also apply to themselves to help reduce our carbon footprint! The next measurement of Le Monde group emissions should relate to the 2024 financial year and be made public in 2025.