Greenpeace flies over Silicon Valley, praises Internet companies that have gone green

by David Pomerantz

April 3, 2014

The Greenpeace Airship A.E. Bates flies near Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California, April 3, 2014, with a banners reading ÒBuilding a Greener InternetÓ and "Who's The Next To Go Green". Greenpeace is saluting the online giants for powering the internet with renewable energy. Photo by George Nikitin/Greenpeace

© George Nikitin/Greenpeace

Greenpeace flew its thermal airship over the tech industrys daily Silicon Valley commute with a message praising Apple, Facebook and Google for powering the internet with renewable energy, and challenging four other tech companies that are currently powered by polluting energy to join them.

One side of the airship read Building the Green Internet and carried Apple, Facebook and Googles logos; the other side asked Whos Next to Go Green? and carried the message #clickclean below the logos of Amazon, Twitter, Netflix and Pinterest, four companies that, in different ways, are all powering their operations with polluting energy.

The 135-foot long, 41-foot diameter thermal airship took off from the Palo Alto airport at 8:00 am and flew over the 101 highway rush hour commute on its way to Facebooks campus, then over to Googles campus, before returning to the airport to land after the 1 hour and 10 minute flight. Another Bay Area flight is planned for next week, depending on weather conditions.


Apple, Facebook and Google are racing each other to build a greener online world, and thats a race that we all win, since it means a greener offline world for everyone too, said Greenpeace Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook. Amazon, Twitter, Pinterest and Netflix can still join the vanguard of the green internet and avoid permanently chaining their fast-growing services to dirty energy if they commit to powering their operations with 100% renewable energy now.

Greenpeace released a report yesterday, Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet, which detailed how Apple, Facebook and Google have each committed to use 100 % renewable energy to power their data centers, the infrastructure behind the internet which requires massive and growing quantities of electricity.

Amazon and Twitter lagged far behind those three companies in the report, as well as many of their other peers and competitors, due to their continued reliance on energy sources that contribute to global warming, like coal and gas, to provide the electricity for their data centers.

As part of its Amazon Web Services division, Amazons data centers host many of the internets most popular sites and services, and are powered by only 15 % renewable energy, according to the report. Netflix and Pinterest both host all of their data with Amazon Web Services, and so have tethered their fast-growing services to polluting sources of energy.

Whether theyre tweeting something funny, pinning something beautiful, or watching our favorite shows, people want to know that their internet use is not hurting the environment, Cook said. Twitter, Pinterest, Netflix and Amazon can make their customers and users proud to be using green online services, but only if they commit to power their operations with renewable energy, as their competitors are already doing.

Twitter rents data center capacity from facilities that collectively use only 21 % renewable energy. Apple, Facebook and Google are currently using 100 %, 49 %, and 48 % renewable energy to power their corners of the internet, respectively, the report found.

Amazon and Twitter also rank at the bottom of the sector for their lack of transparency about their energy use; neither company discloses any data about the amount or mix of electricity it uses to power its data centers, according to the Greenpeace report.

Take action now to ask Amazon, Twitter, Pinterest, Netflix and other companies to adopt renewable energy for their data centers.

Greenpeace is calling on all major internet companies to:

  • Make a long-term commitment to become 100% renewably powered.
  • Commit to transparency on IT energy performance, including the source of electricity, to enable customers, investors, and stakeholders to measure progress toward that goal.
  • Develop a strategy for increasing their supply of renewable energy, through a mixture of procurement, investment, and corporate advocacy to both electricity suppliers and government decision-makers.
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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