Exploring possible digital ecosystems in a sustainable world

Emissions pathway for 2100 (2021 data): +2.9°C (↗ +0,2°C compared with 2021)

We must make unprecedented choices to adapt to the environmental crisis in the medium and long term. We are thus obliged to organise a reduction in our material and energy footprint and all sectors are concerned. The place of the digital sector in this transformation effort has not yet been determined.

As a researcher specialising in the environmental footprint of digitalisation, my role is to provide the most realistic analysis possible through my research, my consultancy work and my teachings, even if it means not digitalising if that is the most relevant choice.

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Research

As a PhD student at RMIT and the Centre de Recherche en Design (ENS Saclay, ENSCI), I map out the environmental issues of digitalization, from the extraction of materials to the end of life, and from infrastructures to the use of digital services. This global vision is combined with more specific research topics, targeted according to their criticality: the estimation of the net environmental impacts of digitalization, or the environmental footprint of the manufacture of electronic components in Taiwan, for example.

My research approach is based on fieldwork (both at the infrastructure and institutional levels), understanding the functioning of digital infrastructures and services, and a mixed approach involving environmental sciences, technical knowledge and human and social sciences.

Lastest publications

  • Gauthier Roussilhe, Thibault Pirson, Mathieu Xhonneux and David Bol, "From Silicon Shield to Carbon Lock-in ? The Environmental Footprint of Electronic Components Manufacturing in Taiwan (2015-2020)"

    [under peer review]

  • Gauthier Roussilhe, "La question écologique dans la champ du design numérique"

    CAMS/O XXXIXe La Vie Mode d'emploi 1 (december 2022): 111-126.

  • Nicolas Nova and Gauthier Roussilhe, "Du low-tech numérique aux numériques situés"

    Sciences du Design 11, no. 1 (may 2020): 91-101.

  • Gauthier Roussilhe, Anne-Laure Ligozat and Sophie Quinton, "A long road ahead: a review of the state of knowledge of the environmental effects of digitization"

    Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 62 (june 2023).

Consultancy

I provide independent expertise for public and private actors who wish to be better informed in their digital choices in order to be consistent with ecological transition policies. My work focuses, among other things, on assessing the environmental footprint of digital systems at the scale of a territory, and analysing digitalization as a risk in an increasingly unstable world. In addition, I design graphical representations of digital infrastructures and their environmental impact to facilitate the transmission of knowledge.

Ongoing projects

  • Environmental assessment of the direct and indirect effects of digital technology in France for ADEME (in collaboration with Hubblo, Mavana and Julie Orgelet)
  • Member of the EGDC advisory committee for the methodology to estimate the net environmental impacts of digitalization launched by the European Union
  • Member of the NZI-IT Advisory Board for Carbone 4
  • Member of the steering committee for the "Metals & Digital sector" study for ADEME

Studies

Pedagogy

I provide training on the environmental issues of digitalization through a general understanding of the infrastructure and material base of the digital sector. Secondly, I provide my students with a critical analysis framework to understand the phenomenon of digitisation in an increasingly socially and environmentally constrained and vulnerable world. In the interest of open education, all my courses are open and freely available.

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Teachings for 2022-2023

  • School of Public Affairs of Sciences Po Paris
  • Master Governing Ecological Transition in European Cities (GETEC) for Sciences Po Paris