After learning about Facebook’s new energy initiative announced earlier this morning, Greenpeace sent us a response commending Facebook for their initial steps but criticizing the company for not doing enough.
The issue primarily revolves around the use of coal and nuclear power to fuel Facebook’s server farm. It’s an issue that the social network has been repeatedly criticized for.
The Greenpeace email included the following quote from the organization’s climate campaigner Casey Harrell:
It’s commendable that Facebook is working to increase the energy efficiency of its business, and specifically its data centers–an area of neglect for many years. But as the global warming footprint of the IT industry, and Facebook specifically, continues to grow significantly, a focus on energy efficiency alone will only slow the speeding train of unsustainable emissions growth. Efficiency is simply not enough.
If Facebook wants to be a truly green company, it needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The way to do that is decouple its growth from its emissions footprint by using clean, renewable energy to power its business instead of dirty coal and dangerous nuclear power.
Greenpeace has called upon Facebook to announce by Earth Day (April 22nd) that it will join a new type of revolution — an Energy Revolution — and commit to a plan to phase out its use of coal over the next decade. If it acts, Facebook users will know that the company is serious about being a clean energy leader and joining the ranks of other IT companies that are prioritizing the use of renewable energy in their business.
There are clearly two ways for Facebook to help the environment: increase energy efficiency and to use renewable energy, as Greenpeace suggests. The social network clearly addresses the former task in today’s announcement. The latter would require a lot more time and effort to achieve — a deadline of this April 22 might be too soon given the sea change required.