Green Screens

Preview image of “Green Screens”
  • Over three years, the CO2 footprint of 161 feature films, among others, was analysed
  • Photos: Unsplash
Fuel consumption on-set is the biggest problem

A consortium of the world’s biggest production and streaming companies is trying to reduce the industry’s emissions.

The enormous pollution generated by the production and delivery of film and TV was addressed this year when the Sustainable Production Alliance released its first industry carbon footprint report. Some of the world’s entertainment giants sit at the SPA, from Amazon Studios, Disney, and Fox Corporation, to Netflix. The body says it aims to improve the industry’s sustainability, through providing reports, research, and toolkits, and conducting outreach helping content creators green their processes.

The carbon footprint of the production of the SPA member companies listed in the report included 161 feature films and 266 television series in three years. International blockbusters, or “tentpole films” were found to have had an average footprint of 3,370 tons, or 33 per shooting day. So-called “large” films notched up 1,081 on average, and “small films” about a third of that. The production of a one-hour episode of a series caused 77 tonnes of emissions. For comparison, estimates the global average footprint of an individual as 4 tons – for a whole year. Meaning that a small film produces as many emissions as almost 100 people produce in a year.

Included in the data are direct emissions, for example from fuel, and indirect emissions, for example from air travel and accommodation. Unsurprisingly, on-set fuel consumption to power equipment or vehicles makes up the largest portion in the production of both film and TV series, accounting for 50-55 per cent. SPA said the findings allow them “to identify opportunities to take
greater action and mobilise stakeholders” to change things for the greener. They plan to release new data every two years. The report is freely available at

The release of the report coincides with Netflix’s announcement to go for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022, catching up with other tech giants like Microsoft. However, Netflix does not take into account emissions produced by its users when streaming the platform’s content.