Introducing Hello Earth’s Digital Carbon Tool

Introducing Hello Earth’s Digital Carbon Tool


Measuring & Managing the Impact of Marketing’s Digital Footprint.


The carbon emissions produced as a result of online activity (otherwise known as “digital carbon emissions”) now account for more than four percent of global carbon emissions, which is more than the aviation sector. Carbon (CO2) emissions make up the majority of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are responsible for heating up the planet, causing extreme weather events in every region across the globe, leading to widespread damage and loss to nature and people.


Scientists and leaders agree that for humanity to continue to thrive for generations to come, there is a need to limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. After that, the risk of irreversible changes to the climate become greatly increased. To keep within these limits, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2023) advises that GHG emissions must be reduced by at least 43 percent by 2030 (compared to 2019 levels) and by at least sixty percent by 2035.


“For this to happen, those creating the emissions that cause climate change need to take responsibility for measuring their current contribution and take action to reduce them.” 

(Purpose Disruptors, 2022).


As a digital marketing agency that is proud to work with responsible businesses, the team at Hello Earth recognises our role and responsibility in the production of digital carbon emissions. We acknowledge the brainprint and footprint impact of just one email, one social media ad, one Google search, or one piece of organic social media content, and the amplification of that impact when it is multiplied by thousands. Even moreso, when a campaign or initiative doesn’t land with its audience, when results are not generated, many of those digital carbon emissions are simply “wasted”.


What is “wasted” digital carbon


As marketing professionals, we are used to measuring success for our stakeholders. But in addressing the threat of climate change, our stakeholders should include people as a whole and the planet.


We can’t see digital carbon emissions, and as Scope 3 emissions are largely unaccounted for in ESG metrics, they can be an easy one to gloss over or forget – particularly from the privileged position of much of the Global North. But the real-world impact of these emissions can be seen and felt in devastating natural disasters – the fires, floods, storms, droughts and heatwaves that see the loss of life, livelihoods, land, biodiversity, homes and businesses; causing displacement of people that will lead to as many as 1.2 billion climate refugees by 2050 (IEP, 2020). 


When you see and understand this impact, it can’t be unseen. 


At Hello Earth, we are of course always looking for ways to improve results for all our clients, but the challenge of improving open rates of an email or conversion rates of an ad, for example, becomes even more compelling when you put the purpose of addressing the impact of digital marketing activities on climate change at the heart of everything we do.

As the founders of the Sustainable Marketing Compass Paul Randle and Alexis Eyre neatly summarise:


“A media planner whose organisation has started to understand the threat of climate change has a budget of two components: financial and carbon. When planning the campaign, the planner will have to account for the response rates of certain channels while also considering the carbon footprint. Success rates could then be communicated in response rates per thousand (impressions, clicks, etc) and response rates per kilogram (carbon). It is common in business-as-usual (BAU) marketing to celebrate what is, in reality, a marginal gain in awareness, acquisition or engagement, such as a 5% success rate of an email campaign. However, if we look at these numbers again through another lens, we might reconsider this to be a 95% wastage rate in digital carbon footprint. In traditional marketing reporting, a wastage rate might be seen as, for example, the percentage of a database that did not open an email. But if we transform how we look at this to consider footprint, we could look at how many kilograms of carbon was produced without generating any results. By transforming how we think about marketing data, we have more opportunity to solve and reframe the problem. (Randle & Eyre, 2022).


As insight and data experts, Hello Earth understands that the first step to improvement is measurement; however, there is a lack of tools available to help businesses deal with their Scope 3 emissions.


So, we decided to change that!


Introducing Hello Earth’s Digital Carbon Tool


Launching in beta mode, Hello Earth’s Digital Carbon Tool provides us with the first tangible step to reducing our digital carbon emissions and those of our clients. Aligning with three of the UN Sustainable Developments Goals that are addressed in our Impact Strategy (SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production, and SDG 13 – Climate Action), the Tool allows us to measure where we are at, so we can reduce our impact and then understand what we need to do next to bridge the gap towards Net Zero emissions. 


How Hello Earth’s Digital Carbon Tool works


The Digital Carbon Tool measures the carbon emissions of Meta, Google Ads, Klaviyo and Meta activity, to provide a benchmark of carbon emissions and carbon wastage from which to improve. It works in conjunction with Hello Earth’s wider proprietary reporting suite, to enable us to track and report on the effectiveness and efficiency of the campaigns we run, not only from the business-as-usual perspective of CPA, ROAS, AOV, CTR etc, but also from the perspective of impact to people and planet through digital carbon emissions. 



The Digital Carbon Tool is part of our five-step programme to address digital carbon wastage, reduce digital carbon emissions and our negative footprint impact on climate change, and increase our positive impact on people and planet:

      1. Identify… key digital channels and how they are used in the marketing mix.

      2. Measure… using our standardised, bespoke Digital Carbon Tool, we measure and assess the impact of digital marketing activity including energy consumption, digital carbon emissions and digital carbon wastage.

      3. Reduce… provide recommendations on how to improve digital marketing activities to reduce your carbon emissions, carbon wastage and impact on the planet.

      4. Bridge the gap… what can’t be reduced, can be offset through our trusted partner, OceanCo, collecting plastic from our oceans.

      5. Use profit for purpose… go one step further in aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals or your own Impact Strategy by supporting your choice of positive impact using your profits for good. From reducing ocean-bound plastic, to supporting mental health or protecting biodiversity, we can connect your brand with a cause of your choice through our network of trusted partners.

    Innovation is vital to accelerate the change we need, if humanity is to thrive for generations to come. The Digital Carbon Tool is just one step towards increasing our positive impact and decreasing our negative impact within our sphere of influence. 

    We know we don’t have all the answers and that this tool isn’t perfect yet. But by launching in beta mode, we have the opportunity to test, learn, evolve and improve in our mission to address the impact of digital marketing activities on climate change, and to support the use of profit for purpose.  But we also know that to address the systemic challenges we face, we have to act bravely and act fast. It is better to be imperfect whilst taking positive action now, than to wait for some form of “perfect”. 

    Because when it comes to addressing the climate crisis, there is no time to wait.



    By putting our purpose at the heart of everything we do, collaborating with like-minded partners and understanding that transitioning and transforming is an ongoing evolution, I believe that we can collectively make real change for the future.

    If you’d like to know more about our carbon tool, or how it could help you or your business, get in touch