Shopping on Amazon is powered by coal

coal emissions photo
CC BY-ND 2.0 dmytrok

Once upon a time, Apple caught some serious flack from Greenpeace for its "dirty cloud". Following substantial clean energy investments, however, Apple has been lauded among renewable energy leaders like Google and Facebook.

Amazon, however, is an entirely different beast.

Back in July of last year, Fast Company asked if Amazon has a renewable energy problem. While other companies were showing ambitious corporate leadership, Amazon appeared to be exhibiting little interest in investing in renewables. In fact Gary Cook, an IT analyst with Greenpeace, told the magazine that Amazon was "not making this a priority", and the activist group later teamed up with comedian Reggie Watts to call out Amazon for lagging behind.

Not only does Amazon's reliance on fossil fuels mean shopping on their own ecommerce site is dirtier than it needs to be, but because Amazon Web Services provide hosting to a huge number of major web players including Netflix and Pinterest, Amazon's own failings mean the rest of the internet is being dragged down with it.

Given the precipitous drop in clean energy costs, and that even more of the competition are betting on renewables (check out Microsoft's massive wind power purchase, for example), you'd think Amazon would not want to be left behind. After all, showing leadership in technology and sustainability can have significant benefits for differentiating your brand.

Amazon doesn't appear to be buying it though. In fact, things may be about to get worse.

As Sam Bliss at Grist and David Pomerantz over at Cleantechnica have reported, Amazon's new data center is going to be located in Dublin, Ohio—a city that gets 2/3rds of its electricity from coal.

It is possible that Amazon has plans to step up its clean energy game. But given that the company has been comparatively secretive about its energy use so far, it's very hard to tell. In the meantime, anyone interested in a greener, less fossil fuel-dependent internet should probably join Greenpeace in demanding Amazon Click Clean. And then maybe think about where you buy your holiday gifts.

Shopping on Amazon is powered by coal
As other web giants get greener, Amazon may be about to increase its reliance on dirty old coal.

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