Greenest companies revealed in new report


Tuesday, 17 January, 2017


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A report by Greenpeace USA has revealed which companies are moving most effectively towards renewable energy, and which are lagging behind.

The report, ‘Clicking Clean: Who is Winning the Race to Build a Green Internet?’, examines the energy footprints of large data centre operators and found that Apple, Google, Facebook and Switch were among the best performers.

Alternatively, companies such as Netflix, Amazon Web Services and Samsung are falling behind in the green energy stakes.

“Amazon continues to talk a good game on renewables but is keeping its customers in the dark on its energy decisions,” said Greenpeace USA Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook.

“This is concerning, particularly as Amazon expands into markets served by dirty energy.”

Netflix has one of the largest data footprints of the companies profiled, accounting for one-third of internet traffic in North America and contributing significantly to the worldwide data demand from video streaming. The company announced in 2015 that it intended to fully offset its carbon footprint, but a closer examination reveals it is likely turning to carbon offsets or unbundled renewable energy credits, which do little to increase renewable energy investment.

”Like Apple, Facebook and Google, Netflix is one of the biggest drivers of the online world and has a critical say in how it is powered. Netflix must embrace the responsibility to make sure its growth is powered by renewables, not fossil fuels, and it must show its leadership here,” said Cook.

For the first time, this year’s report also evaluates Asian companies including tech giants Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba and Naver, which are steadily expanding globally. The region is well behind the US market in renewable commitments, due in large part to fewer clean energy options from monopoly utilities.

“Leading tech companies in the US have shown that clean power can be both good for the environment and for business. East Asian companies must step up to embrace that reality as well,” said Jude Lee, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

Nearly 20 IT companies have committed to 100% renewable energy use now. Among all data centres evaluated, Switch, a new entry to this year’s report, is making the best progress to transitioning its data centre fleet to renewables through both procurement and aggressive advocacy.

The IT industry’s energy footprint accounted for 7% of global electricity in 2012, a number set to grow as global internet traffic increases, and is expected to exceed 12% by 2017. Video streaming accounted for 63% of global internet traffic in 2015, and is projected to reach about 80% by 2020, according to Cisco Network Traffic Forecast, 2016.

Greenpeace has benchmarked the energy performance of the IT sector since 2009. Greenpeace is calling on all major internet companies to:

  • make a long-term commitment to become 100% renewably powered;
  • commit to be transparent on IT energy performance and consumption of resources, including the source of electricity, to enable customers, investors and stakeholders to measure progress towards that goal;
  • develop a strategy for increasing their supply of renewable energy, through a mixture of procurement, investment and corporate advocacy, to both electricity suppliers and government decision-makers.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Denisismagilov

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