After much pressure from Greenpeace and 700,000 online activists, Facebook has finally conceded to begin shifting away from using coal to power its data centres and promote renewable energy use.
Greenpeace and Facebook have announced that they will collaborate on the promotion of renewable energy, encourage major utilities to develop renewable energy generation, and develop programmes that will enable Facebook users to save energy and engage their communities in clean energy decisions.
The news comes two years after Greenpeace launched its global Unfriend Coal Campaign, enlisting 700,000 online activists to call on Facebook to power its datacentres with clean energy instead of coal, with the campaign setting the Guinness World Record for most Facebook comments in one day. As a result of the announcement, Greenpeace has ended its campaign against the social network.
"Greenpeace and Facebook will now work together to encourage major energy producers to move away from coal and instead invest in renewable energy. This move sets an example for the industry to follow", said Tzeporah Berman, Co-director of Greenpeace's International Climate and Energy Program. "This shift to clean, safe energy choices will help fight global warming and ensure a stronger economy and healthier communities".
Facebook's goal now is to power its operations, including its data centres, using clean and renewable energy. The company will build on its leadership in energy efficiency through the Open Compute Project to encourage other IT companies to power their operations with clean, renewable energy.
The energy used to power data centres, such as those operated by Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, IBM and other major IT companies that deliver online services is significant, totalling more than 2% of US electricity demand, and is projected to grow 12% or more per year.
"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," said Marcy Scott Lynn of Facebook's sustainability program. "As an important step, our data centre siting policy now states a preference for access to clean and renewable energy. Another important step will be to work with Greenpeace to put the power of our platform to use for the environment.
Greenpeace has been particularly effective using Facebook to spark environmental awareness and action, we are excited to work with them to explore new ways in which people can use Facebook to engage and connect on the range of energy issues that matter most to them - from their own energy efficiency to access to cleaner sources of energy."
As part of the agreement, the social media giant will continue pursuing on-going research into energy efficiency and the open sharing of that technology through the Open Compute Project which Greenpeace will work to support. Facebook also plans to engage in dialogue with utility providers about the sources of energy that power their data centres.
"Facebook's commitment to renewable energy raises the bar for other IT and cloud computing companies such as Apple, IBM, Microsoft, and Twitter," said Casey Harrell, Senior IT Analyst for Greenpeace International. ''The Facebook campaign proved that people all over the world want their social networks powered by renewable energy, and not by coal. Greenpeace will continue to measure, report and campaign on the sector's progress to green the cloud".
Greenpeace and Facebook have also agreed to develop and promote experiences on Facebook that help people and organizations connect with ways to save energy and engage their communities in clean energy issues. Greenpeace makes extensive use of Facebook to engage its supporters in campaigns, and is the most 'liked' environmental non-profit organization on Facebook.