Skip to Content

Greenpeace wants Facebook center off coal fuel

September 1, 2010

AMSTERDAM (AP) – Greenpeace said about 500,000 Facebook users have urged the world’s largest social network to abandon plans to buy electricity from a coal-based energy company for its new data center in the U.S.

Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo sent a letter Wednesday to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg warning that the company risked its reputation and financial health if it ignored the environmental impacts of its actions.

“Facebook is really out of step with the trend” among information technology companies, Naidoo told The Associated Press by phone.

The Amsterdam-based environmental group started a Facebook group in February after the company announced plans to build a center in Oregon, asking it not to use dirty energy. Last week, the group passed 500,000 members, according to Greenpeace’s Web site.

Greenpeace sees such the information industry as the vanguard of companies capable of influencing young people to be aware of concerns over climate change and emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for global warming. Burning coal for power is one of the largest sources of carbon accumulating in the atmosphere.

Google has invested tens of millions of dollars this year in wind farms to power its data centers.

When Facebook broke ground on its center in Prineville, Oregon, in January, it said it would use energy efficient technology to minimize its impact and reduce its power needs, including reusing heat generated by its servers.

But Greenpeace said Facebook signed a deal to source its energy from PacificCorp, which it said uses 83 percent coal in its energy mix.

Facebook “had a choice as to where they located it,” Naidoo said of the data center. “They had a chance to think through this piece of that decision. Clearly they made an active choice to lean in the direction of dirty coal.”

Naidoo said his organization singled out Facebook because of its reach across the globe, especially among the young. Facebook says it now has 500 million users.

He acknowledged Facebook’s policy of neutrality that prevents it from advocating causes on its network, but said climate change should be an exception, since “the future of the planet is at stake,”

Information companies, including titans like Microsoft, contribute an estimated 2 percent of manmade carbon emissions, about the same as the aviation industry. But the IT sector is growing fast. Greenpeace cite studies saying the industry has the capability to reduce its emissions 15 percent by 2020.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.