After a massive campaign by Greenpeace to get everyone’s favorite social media site to quit coal energy, Facebook has announced a new energy policy and a partnership with Greenpeace. The policy includes a goal “to power all of our operations with clean and renewable energy,” however does not go so far as to state it is dropping coal at this time or give a timeline as to when it may do so. Still, Greenpeace is calling the new policy by Facebook a victory.
“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.”
Almost two years ago, Greenpeace started the Unfriend Coal Campaign on Facebook. Ultimately the campaign drew 700,000 supporters applying pressure on the social media giant. Facebook’s new policy includes a preference for renewable energy, research into energy efficiency, and engaging other large energy users and producers to move toward clean energy.
“Building on our leadership in energy efficiency (through the Open Compute Project), we are working in partnership with Greenpeace and others to create a world that is highly efficient and powered by clean and renewable energy,” the company says in a press release.
For its part, Greenpeace is supporting Facebook’s Open Commute Project, which is working to create better energy efficiency for data centers.
Coal fired energy is the among the world’s most carbon intensive energy sources. In fact, two 2009 reports in Nature found that if the world wants to stay within ‘safe levels’ of climate change, i.e. average temperature not rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, then coal must be abandoned altogether unless carbon capture and storage (CCS) proves effective. Currently, about half the power in the US stems from coal.
Other impacts from coal include mercury pollution, which has linked to a number of health problems, and the destruction of ecosystems for mining.
“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.
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