Greenpeace has started a campaign to ‘get the in internet off coal’. The organisation points out that every day, tons of asthma-inducing, climate destroying coal pollution is thrown in the air to keep the Internet humming.
Greenpeace’s focus is on the few very large tech industry companies who can choose to quit the coal habit – the organisation has already had success with Facebook. So the focus now on making Microsoft, Amazon and Apple.
The organisation wants supporters to fill in a petition addressed at the three CEOs of the respective companies asking them to:
Make it company policy to seek renewable energy when siting their data centres.
Urge their electricity suppliers to move away from dirty energy generation, investing instead in renewable energy generation, capacity, and efficiency.
Advocate full transparency of energy use and carbon footprint for all products, as well as cloud presence.
Encourage product suppliers and manufacturers to adopt similar policies, and give preferences to green suppliers
You can sign up to the petition here.
Review: Much of the focus to date on making data centres greener has been on increased energy efficiency. But there’s now a lot of technology and experience to help data centre managers improve the energy use of their facilities. And to be fair, many of the major IT companies have already addressed the issue, not least because of the money they can save.
But increasing efficiency produces diminishing returns over time and with the growth in internet use and the move to cloud computing, data centre power use continues to rise significantly. So just addressing efficiency is not a long term solution.
It’s this problem that Greenpeace is addressing. IT companies now need to look at the type of energy they use. Some are increasingly using substantial amounts of green power (stand up Google) and some have a piecemeal approach to using local/onsite renewable energy. But it needs a wholesale move.
These IT companies are ideally placed to set an example. Their business grows on the back of power use so they have a responsibility to minimise the emissions from that power and at least move away from coal.