What Is The Carbon Footprint Of Chat GPT?

Sarah Raines
The carbon footprint of an artificial intelligence language model like Chat GPT is a topic of great importance in today’s world. As an AI model, it doesn’t have a physical presence, but the computational resources required to train and run models like Chat GPT do have an environmental impact.
Chat GPT
Chat GPT by OpenAI. Photo: Andrew Neel | Unsplash

ChatGPT is a generative AI that has been the talk of the town since its release in 2022. But with the surge in usage, discussions of how it makes the planet hotter have started to rear its head. While AI seems harmless enough, it affects the environment. 

As it stands, the more influential the AI, the more energy it uses. In this article, we explore the carbon footprint of the world’s most prominent AI, ChatGPT. 

How Much Power Does ChatGPT Generate? 

ChatGPT is a generative AI that is involved in computing lots of data. It generates a lot of output. The precise energy production of ChatGPT is challenging to estimate. Also, there are various factors to consider, like the equipment used. However, we can take speculations from similar AI models. In 2019, the AI, Bert, had 110 million parameters. This value is identical to a person taking a transcontinental flight. 

Note the number of parameters stands for the size of the AI model. The more the number, the larger the AI model. That said, GPT-3 has 175 billion parameters. The AI model consumed about 1,289 megawatts hours of electricity. Also, it created several tons of carbon dioxide, contributing to a huge carbon footprint. And that was before people started to use the model. Imagine how insane GPT-4 would be. Speculation is ChatGPT creates over 8 tonnes of CO2 yearly and has created over 500 tonnes. 

However, size doesn’t necessarily equate to a high carbon footprint. Several models with a similar size to GPT-3 have a lower CO2 footprint. AI models can be more efficient. Moreover, after OpenAI released ChatGPT, it received billions of visits. So the carbon footprint is expected to add up. Unlike GPT 3, the values of GPT4 are not open to the public, but we suspect it has insane numbers. 

What Does The Future Look Like For ChatGPT?

The future is looking a lot like ChatGPT, and undoubtedly, they will continue to generate insane energy. Currently, there are lots of parties to reduce the carbon footprint of ChatGPT. While ChatGPT is not enough to wreak havoc on our environment, many AI models following their steps might be catastrophic. 

The great news is AI models, like ChatGPT, can run on clean, renewable energy. It can be better if the proper computations are made, and clean energy is more available for this AI. Also, as society becomes more aware of the societal impact of AI, more voices will be raised. As labs do their research and models become more open, people have the option to pick cleaner, greener bots. 


While you tap away your prompt on ChatGPT, it might not be obvious, but it creates its fair share of carbon emissions. ChatGPT is large, and so is its carbon footprint. We have no definitive answer to how much energy it makes, but we know it’s a lot. 

The future can only look green when we work towards a greener AI space. However, presently, ChatGPT creates many carbon emissions, as do many of the booming AI models. It only worsens until structures are put in place to keep these models in check. 


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