As part of its commitment to responsible journalism, Russmedia’s online news platform VOL.AT took on an ambitious goal: to become the first platform to reach CO2-neutral status. It has now reached that goal and has made all interactions with the site — from reading the news to watching videos to collecting Ländlepunkte for rewards — completely climate friendly.
Georg Burtscher, digital managing director at Russmedia, said the move was part of the company’s ongoing participation in the Klimaneutralitätsbündnis (or Climate Neutrality Alliance) 2025.
“As a news platform that consumes huge amounts of energy every day to produce and operate news sites and advertising, it is particularly important to us to invest in sustainable projects for climate protection,” he said. “It is important to us not only to focus on responsible journalism and quality environments, we also want to actively contribute to climate protection.”
Another step toward a smaller footprint
Russmedia had already made significant changes to support a more climate-friendly environment. In 2019, it made all its employees carbon-neutral by compensating for the CO2 emission of every employee through investments in sustainable projects around the world.
“For all employees, it was a great way to ensure sustainability,” Burtscher said. “We received a lot of positive feedback and many of our employees took home the certificate of their compensation.”
Achieving neutrality of the online news platform was the next logical step, and now local newspaper Vorarlberger Nachrichten and its digital Vorarlberg Online platform are now also supporting the initiative. Now, Burtscher said, users can access the online platform with confidence that it’s completely climate friendly. To offset emissions caused by online traffic, Russmedia supports sustainability projects around the world ranging from efficient cooking to reforestation to a joint project with various local companies.
In addition to achieving carbon-neutral status for readers, VOL.AT’s approach also allows advertisers to contribute to climate protection.
“All our Web sites generate huge amounts of energy due to the large traffic volume,” Burtscher explained. “In addition, there are CO2 emissions from buildings, heating, employees, travel to the office, and much more.”
To offset the energy used in placing and displaying advertising, VOL.AT has included the costs and emissions of its ad servers in the calculation of costs.
“This makes it possible, for the first time, to place online advertising on a news portal in a CO2-neutral manner — no matter if it’s display, text, video, or any other format.”
The greatest challenge in implementing the programme came in trying to calculate the actual amount of CO2 pollution caused by the portals. However, the company had the support of a regional energy supplier which also is the area’s leader in climate neutrality, Burtscher said.
The plan has been well-received by advertisers, many of which have already adopted their own sustainability and climate protection standards as part of their individual brand values.
“It helps enormously to be able to offer them climate-neutral advertising space,” Burtscher said. “In addition to the domestic added value, this is a huge advantage in terms of sustainability compared to international platforms and players.”