Zoom: the answer to cutting transport’s carbon emissions?

Whilst many businesses have suffered during lockdown, video sharing platform Zoom made $4 billion in three months. Post-lockdown, what effect could this have on travel and the climate crisis? 

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Zoom has aided those who have been forced to self-isolate completely. By keeping people in contact with family, friends and colleagues, video sharing has helped people adapt to the new normal.

Self-isolators have been able to attend online hobby classes, appointments and self-help groups. Zoom has allowed for a new kind of socialising to appear in lockdown.

  • Work continues from home for many and conference calls (even between the UK Cabinet) are being conducted from a distance. 
  • Students have been able to attend classes and even complete exams on Zoom. 
  • Instead of posting a #clubselfie, screenshots of friends raising a glass in their separate squares during a Zoom quiz permeate social media.
  • Video compilations of “Zoom calls gone wrong” have ensured everyone remembers to utilise the Mute and Stop Video options. 
  • Zoom’s background options have kept meeting entertaining, and finally,
  • The platform has even aided in exposing Greg Glassman, founder and CEO of CrossFit. After a Zoom meeting video recording was leaked, with Glassman stating: “Can you tell me why I should mourn for [police brutality victim, George Floyd]? Other than that it’s the white thing to do?” Glassman retired. 

The Glassman incident does raise the question of privacy, and what other businesses are keeping quiet, whilst being recorded. With a total of 12 million users worldwide, it is clear Zoom as been incorporated into the lives of many.

The success of Zoom 

The Chinese-American platform was created by Eric Yuan, who left network manufacturer Cisco, to create the app. 

Although Zoom was popular when it was launched in 2011, within the first three months of the COVID-19 lockdown, the number of Zoom users soared. As a result, Yuan has earned an estimated USD $4bn.

What does Zoom have to do with the climate crisis?

With horrifying hacking incidents taking place and the rise of “Zoom fatigue”, not everyone is happy with Zoom. However, there is no doubt that Zoom has supported the world during a difficult time.

Whilst the UK emerges from lockdown, people are once again able to meet in person. But, after a spike in cases, residents in Galicia, Spain are entering their second lockdown. Zoom will once again provide a lifeline to those cut off from the world and carbon emissions from transport will dip in the area.

One positive aspect of lockdown is that there has been a massive reduction in carbon emissions from transport, as the need to travel has been vastly limited.

Through business meetings, workshops and other international events being cancelled, many have continued via Zoom, saving carbon emissions as people do not need to travel to get to work.

According to Investopedia, a finance comparison site, “Business travellers account for 12% of airlines’ passengers”.

Even after the much-hoped-for Coronavirus vaccine is found, the climate crisis will continue. The environmental damage brought by the transport sector will still need to be addressed. If businesses can see this benefit in group video calls it will reduce the need to send employees around the country or abroad. This trend could continue and cause a permanent, radical drop in carbon dioxide emissions

Helen Adams

Helen Adams is an Editor and Senior Writer for CleanTech News. A keen journalist, Helen developed an appreciation for the need for change in the battle against climate change after travelling and is passionate to communicate this through her work at CleanTech News. Now studying for her NCTJ Journalism MA, Helen wants to champion clean developments using her writing. Presently, Helen is developing her data journalism, video-making and podcasting skills which she is looking forward to incorporating into her role as Editor.