Major AWS Customers Call for Greater Energy Transparency

by David Pomerantz

June 3, 2015

[caption id="attachment_33393" align="alignnone" width="600"]During the Amazon.com Inc. summit in Stockholm, Greenpeace Sweden asks AWS customers to demand the company "clean its cloud" and go 100% renewable. During the AWS summit in Stockholm, Greenpeace Sweden talks to AWS customers about AWS' lack of transparency on its energy use.[/caption] Tens of thousands of Amazon.com customers have joined Greenpeace in recent years and called upon the online retailer and tech giant to power its operations with renewable energy, as Apple, Facebook and Google are doing. But those aren’t the only kinds of Amazon customers asking the company to build a greener internet. Amazon’s cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Web Services, provides the computing infrastructure for over a million customers, including many of our favorite online sites and services. Nineteen of those customers have written a joint letter to AWS praising its commitment to 100% renewable energy, but also challenging AWS to go further in three main ways that will give them “full confidence in AWS’ commitment to renewable energy”:
  • Commit to transparency on energy and environmental performance, including publishing information describing AWS’ energy and carbon footprints and progress toward renewable energy goals.
  • Share AWS’ strategies for increasing the supply of renewable electricity across [its] footprint, including a mixture of investment, procurement and corporate advocacy to both electric utilities and government decision-makers.
  • Provide clarity on AWS’ principles for how it defines renewable energy, and what type of options it will prefer moving forward, so that we and our customers and users can have confidence in the integrity of AWS’ commitment.
(See full letter below this post.) Companies on the letter include top internet properties like Tumblr., The Huffington Post, Hootsuite and Change.org. These companies recognize that it’s difficult for them to become more sustainably powered without greater transparency from their vendor. The Huffington Post went a step further, noting on its own blog that when it asked AWS for energy data, AWS responded by saying that:
"Unfortunately we do not release this information to our customers. We are unable to provide any statistics on energy consumption for our Datacenters."
The Huffington Post called upon AWS to “set a new industry standard by publishing detailed data with regard to energy usage. We've done our part by using solutions we know to be more efficient; now do your part by providing the data necessary to track and report our progress.” As climate change continues to grow as a concern in corporate board rooms, more and more enterprise cloud customers will be making sustainability commitments, or extending their commitments to their cloud computing vendors. Customers will increasingly expect cloud computing vendors to report energy and carbon footprint data both for their overall footprint and for their customers’ use of their infrastructure, so that they can measure progress toward their own goals. AWS, for its part, should expect to hear from more and more customers until it publishes detailed data on its energy use and carbon footprint, and provides information that instills confidence that its commitment to 100% renewable energy is the real thing. AWS Customer Letter
David Pomerantz

By David Pomerantz

David Pomerantz is a former Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace USA, based in San Francisco. He helps lead Greenpeace's campaign for an economy powered by 100% renewable energy.

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