How green is the internet? Which online giants are cleanest and dirtiest?

Greenpeace Click Clean internet companies 2015
Screen capture Greenpeace

Greenpeace has released the 2015 version of its ongoing survey of the environmental efforts of large internet companies. Last year's version, which we covered here, contained a few surprises, and this year seems to mostly confirm a few trends.

Greenpeace broke it down by looking at what type of energy each company used to run its online operations, and then looked at the level of environmental transparency and commitment of each company across a few category. The table below shows the results:

Greenpeace Click Clean internet companies 2015Greenpeace/Screen capture

Google and Facebook get good marks, but they still run on less than 50% clean energy, which is a bit disappointing; it's not like they don't have the money to spend on cleaning up their act. Yahoo is more of a mixed bag when it comes to disclosures, but it does rank high when it comes to renewable energy. Is Web 1.0 beating Web 2.0?

Another repeat from last year, despite some efforts to improve things with a wind power investment, is that Amazon is still a laggard when it comes to major online players, especially when it comes to transparency and commitment to renewable energy and efficiency. The less technically-inclined among you might not know that the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform is used by many, many other online companies, so as long as Amazon doesn't get its act together, a lot of other sites are not as clean as they could be. Just look at all the "satellites" on this graph to get an idea of how big the sites hosted by Amazon are:

Amazon Greenpeace click clean 2015Greenpeace/Screen capture

But once again, the big winner according to Greenpeace is Apple. It's the only company that has a perfect score in the ranking, getting 100% in clean energy, and four A's for "Energy Transparency", "Renewable Energy Commitment & Siting Policy", "Energy Efficiency & Mitigation", and "Renewable Energy Deployment & Advocacy". As you can see below, both iTunes and iClouds - Apple's main online things - are 100% clean-powered:

Apple Greenpeace Click Clean 2015Greenpeace/Screen capture

Just two days ago I was writing about how Apple announced that they now want to transition their Chinese manufacturing to clean power, and will protect an additional 1 million acres of forests in China, on top of the San-Francisco sized forest that they are protecting in the US.

Looks like Apple is now a clear leader when it comes to greening its online operations, and its competitors (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft...) should try to compete on that front too, not just for dollars.

Here's a video of a solar farm in Maiden, North Carolina, owned by Apple:

Via Greenpeace (pdf)

Tags: Coal | Energy | Energy Efficiency | Renewable Energy


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