According to GlobalData Thematic Research, the metaverse might offset emissions by changing the way we interact with each other.

The metaverse is essentially a virtual world where users are able to share experiences and interact in real time within simulated scenarios.

It's been described by Microsoft as “a new version—or a new vision—of the internet”.

The volume and speed of data will be generated by users will require AI applications for analysis. The metaverse will also rely on virtual reality technologies, which already use AI technologies, like deep neural networks for accurate hand tracking and deep learning for eye tracking.

However, data center processing, especially for AI workloads, comes at a massive environmental cost. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts performed a lifecycle assessment for training several common large AI models and found that training a single AI model can emit more than 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent.

To put into perspective, that's five times the lifetime emissions of an average American car.

Cloud services are critical to VR and it will be critical for the metaverse.

According to a report done by researchers at Lancaster University, a scenario in which 30% of gamers have moved to cloud gaming platforms by 2030 would lead to a 30% increase in carbon emissions, compared to gaming today. The metaverse will also require high-resolution imagery, which will increase energy consumption even more.