China's digital sector is on track to almost triple its energy consumption by 2035, according to a new report released on Friday by environmental charity Greenpeace.
Electricity demand from China's internet infrastructure is expected to rise 289 per cent by the middle of the next decade, putting pressure on the country's pledge to go carbon neutral by 2060.
China is currently the world's biggest producer of CO2 emissions.
5G is one of the main drivers of the increase, the report said. Annual power consumption from the next-generation technology is forecast to increase by 488 per cent by 2035 to roughly 296.5 billion kilowatt-hours, similar to the total amount Spain currently uses in a year.
According to Greenpeace, emissions from China's digital sector are expected to rise through 2035. By contrast, traditional big polluters like the steel and concrete industry are expected to hit peak carbon in 2025.
"Explosive growth in digital infrastructure does not need to mean growth in emissions,” said Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner Ye Ruiqi.
“Technology companies have the potential to catalyze real emissions reductions via investment in distributed renewables projects and direct purchase of wind and solar energy, among other strategies".