Amazon locks horns with Greenpeace over energy commitment

Greenpeace and Amazon have become embroiled in a public spat after the charity claimed the online retailer's renewable energy commitments "lacked basic transparency".

In its new ‘Clicking Clean’ report released this week, Greenpeace analysed the transparency, efficiency and renewable energy commitments of 17 tech giants, including Google, Facebook Amazon, IBM and Yahoo.

Amazon was awarded an ‘F’ grade for its energy transparency, after faiing to respond to a Greenpeace request for energy data.

“Amazon needs to provide more information about its data centre footprint and how it will move toward [its pledge of using] 100% renewable energy, as Apple, Google, and Facebook have done,” said Greenpeace USA senior IT analyst Gary Cook.

The report went on to suggest that Amazon Web Services (AWS) – the cloud service used by Netflix and Pinterest – was expanding in areas where it would be unable to reach the company’s renewable energy pledge.


However, Amazon has been quick to hit back, releasing a statement dismissing the report as “misguided and inaccurate”.

The company said: “We’ve told Greenpeace [the data] is wrong, but they chose to publish it anyway. ‎We continue to publish data about our actual energy mix and new developments toward achieving our long term goal of 100% renewable on our Sustainable Energy webpage.

“The report also chooses to focus on certain hot buttons Greenpeace has, but causes them to miss the forest for the trees. “

Amazon claims that the Greenpeace analysis effectively ignores the resource utilisation and energy efficiency gains made by the company.

The statement continued: “In the last year, we’ve taken several significant steps to achieve our long-term commitment of 100% renewable energy usage for the AWS global infrastructure footprint – with three carbon-neutral AWS Regions (Oregon, GovCloud, and Frankfurt) and by teaming with Pattern Development to build and operate the 150 megawatt Amazon Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge) in Indiana.”

The company added that the AWS global infrastructure was already running on 25% renewable energy, and this was expected to rise to 40% by 2016.

The controversy between the two organisations is the latest in a long history of tension, generated by the annual ‘Clicking Clean’ report.

Greenpeace Video: Amazon’s Dirty Cloud

The latest Clicking Clean report praised Apple for matching its rapid growth with uptake of renewable energy, fulfilling its claim to be 100% renewably powered.

Apple was followed by Yahoo, Facebook and Google using 73%, 49% and 46% clean energy respectively. Microsoft receieved criticsm for “slipping further behind” its rivals.

Brad Allen

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