Greenpeace gives Apple, Google, Facebook good marks on clean energy

The tech industry’s biggest and most famous companies are also its greenest.

Apple, Google and Facebook have again scored the highest marks in Greenpeace’s annual renewable-energy rankings.

“We are seeing the tech industry make major strides toward powering the internet with clean energy,” Greenpeace Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook said in a news release about the report Greenpeace released Monday night.

Greenpeace, which has tracked the energy performance of leading tech companies since 2009, this year scored the renewable-energy efforts of about 70 websites and apps in the United States, and, for the first time, China and South Korea.

Apple, Google and Facebook had the highest marks for the third year in a row, with Apple and Facebook getting an “A” in energy transparency, renewable-energy commitment and sitting policy, energy efficiency and mitigation and renewable procurement. Both companies got a “B” in advocacy. Google got an “A” in all the categories except energy transparency.

The three companies also ranked high on Greenpeace’s clean-energy index, which is based on the electricity demand of each company’s data centers (in megawatts) and the amount of renewable electricity that’s used to power it. Apple scored highest, followed by Facebook and Google.

In 2015, Apple used 93 percent renewable energy, according to its website. Google last month said it expects to power its offices and data centers worldwide with 100 percent renewable energy by the end of 2017. Facebook’s website says it aims to get to 50 percent renewable energy in 2018.

Netflix, Amazon, Twitter and Oracle are among the tech companies with marks that need improvement, according to Greenpeace.

The environmental group dinged Netflix and Amazon for their lack of transparency on renewable energy. Both are in the business of video streaming, which Greenpeace said is “a tremendous driver of data demand” that’s projected to reach 80 percent of internet traffic by 2020, according to Cisco’s latest network traffic forecast. The Greenpeace report also calls Amazon Web Services among the least transparent companies.

New: AWS emailed a comment to SiliconBeat, saying that it has “many exciting initiatives planned” on its way to getting to 100 percent renewable. “In November 2014 AWS made a long-term commitment to achieve 100 percent renewable energy and in just two years we’ve made strong progress towards that goal,” an AWS spokesman said. “By April 2015 we hit 25 percent renewable, closed 2016 at 45 percent renewable, and have set a goal to reach 50 percent by the end of 2017.” End new.

Of Netflix, Greenpeace said: “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.”

SiliconBeat has emailed Netflix for comment but has yet to receive a response.

The Greenpeace report (PDF) can be found here.


Photo: The Greenpeace Airship A.E. Bates flies over Facebook headquarters in 2014 with banners reading “Building a Greener Internet” and “Who’s The Next To Go Green?” (George Nikitin/Greenpeace)


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