The Eco-Friendly Web Alliance (EFWA) will provide guidance and official accreditation to charities.
Charities across the UK are being offered a free service which will make their websites officially “eco-friendly”.
The initiative will see organisations of charitable status have their sites analysed by experts to determine how much CO2 they emit per page view.
The Eco-Friendly Web Alliance (EFWA) will provide guidance on “optimisation” changes and provide official accreditation to charities, before adding them to a “verification directory” and conducting quarterly audits to help them maintain the eco standard.
The organisation’s scientific advisory board estimates that websites which generate no more than one gram of CO2 per page view can be considered “eco-friendly”.
However, the average website consumes more than double that, meaning they are contributing to increasing global emissions caused by the internet.
As it stands, the internet is responsible for 3.7 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions and around 10 per cent of the world’s electricity use.
That includes people accessing the web on their devices, as well as associated infrastructure like data centres and transmission networks.
Shane Herath, chair of the Eco-Friendly Web Alliance, said: “People tend not to think of the internet as a major contributor to climate change, perhaps because we can’t see the physical emissions as we use it.
“But in reality, it is responsible for more emissions than the aviation industry and, with the internet playing an ever-greater role in all our lives, the rate will only increase.
“That’s why we have to act now to reduce the CO2 emitted per page view for all websites.
“If this is done successfully, we can prevent hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO2 being sent into the atmosphere.”
The EFWA campaigns for websites to become more environmentally friendly by optimising their pages, reducing overall page size, image size and “bloat”, and disabling functions that automatically play videos.
Sites which undergo this process then tend to load faster and perform better.
Application fees for the eco-friendly website accreditation depends on the size of the organisations, and starts at £85.
However, the EFWA wants to offer the service to charities for free in the hope of making a positive impact on the environment.
Mr Herath said: “Given the exponential data growth and more people around the world becoming internet users, reducing the energy consumed by the internet and digital technologies will be absolutely crucial to the overall fight against climate change.
“We want to help UK charities do this by offering them the solution to reducing their website-related emissions and the accreditation that demonstrates this commitment free of charge.
“We know charities are hard-pressed for cash just now because of the pandemic and will have a variety of other priorities, not least helping those they were set up to support.
“So by enabling them to use this free service, that is at least one environmental worry we can take off their hands.”