Amazon failing to admit its dirty cloud problem

by David Pomerantz

June 20, 2012

Some of the top executives at Amazon are touring the world right now, attending sales conferences and trying to persuade smaller businesses to store their data in Amazons massive cloud operations.

Those businesses are looking to reduce their own costs and perhaps their own energy usage by storing their information in the cloud instead of in their own office buildings. But what they may not realize is that with Amazon, they are getting a prospective new business partner who runs a dirty cloud powered by coal.

Amazon-Cloud action Berlin

So today, Greenpeace Germany brought that message to one of Amazons conferences, using balloons to float a message to Amazons executives that it should clean up its cloud by powering it with clean energy, not coal.

Amazon’s customers got the message too. They asked questions, took photos, and thanked use for informing them about the issue. Many said they were shocked and would reconsider whether or not to do business with Amazon.

“This is really important. I have good contacts within Amazon, and will actually ask them how they plan to change this,” one representative told the activists.

Unfortunately, Amazon has so far not shown the slightest inclination that it feels like listening.

Since Greenpeace started its Clean Our Cloud campaign in April, weve seen responses from Apple and Microsoft in which both companies are talking a lot more about adopting clean energy.

Both Microsoft and Apple have a long way to go before they power their data centres with clean energy, but their executives statements show that they are at least considering the demands of the hundreds of thousands of customers who have asked for that.

Unfortunately, Amazon is not paying attention, doesn’t listen or doesnt care what it’s customers think, as the company has yet to offer a substantive response.

The stakes are high for Amazon, whose cloud services are massive. The company wont say exactly how many servers it has, but a recent study estimated that one third of all daily internet users will access an Amazon AWS cloud site on average at least once a day.

If you used a web service like Netflix, Pinterest, Dropbox or Instagram today, you were routed through Amazons cloud platform.

Unfortunately, 64% of the electricity Amazon uses for that massive cloud operation comes from dirty coal and dangerous nuclear power.

Amazon just doesnt seem to be paying attention to the mounting pressure on tech companies to clean up its act and risks falling to the bottom of the tech sector for having the dirtiest cloud of all.

Come on Amazon, you can do better!

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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