Facebook has succumbed to pressure from Greenpeace by announcing a goal of powering all its operations with clean and renewable energy. The company will also work with Greenpeace on promoting renewable energy, encouraging major utilities to develop renewable energy generation and enabling Facebook users to save energy.
It’s been two years since Greenpeace launched it’s ‘Unfriend Coal’ campaign, which resulted in 700,000 people calling on Facebook to power its data centres with clean energy instead of coal. As a result of this new collaboration between the two organisations, the Greenpeace campaign has now been dropped.
As part of the agreement, Facebook, supported by Greenpeace, will continue research into energy efficiency, sharing that technology as part of the Open Compute Project, an industry group working on the most efficient server, storage and data centre hardware designs for scalable computing. Facebook also plans to talk with utility providers about the sources of energy that power their data centres.
Greenpeace and Facebook have also agreed to ‘develop and promote experiences on Facebook’ to help people and organisations save energy and engage their communities in clean energy issues.
I’ve reported several times on the Greenpeace pressure on Facebook, which has grown over the last year. In fact in the run up to Earth Day this year Greenpeace called on Facebook to do pretty much what it has now done, i.e. use more clean energy, educate its users and advocate the use of clean energy.
However, it’s not clear exactly what Facebook is committed to, in terms of clean/renewable energy use. It’s expressed in terms of a goal, rather than a specific target. Marcy Scott Lynn, of Facebook's sustainability program, said “Facebook looks forward to a day when our primary energy sources are clean and renewable, and we are working with Greenpeace and others to help bring that day closer. As an important step, our data centre siting policy now states a preference for access to clean and renewable energy”. That’s pretty vague.
It could have been a lot more explicit, with targets and dates, but I suppose it’s a step in the right Green ICT direction.