Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Activists Float Question to Amazon and Microsoft: How Clean Is Your Cloud?

Energy
Activists Float Question to Amazon and Microsoft: How Clean Is Your Cloud?

Greenpeace USA

Greenpeace activists floated a cloud over downtown Seattle today in a demonstration to draw attention to the type of energy that tech companies Amazon and Microsoft use to power their cloud computing services.

Activists climbed atop the roof outside of Amazon’s new headquarters, and across the street from Microsoft offices, and rappelled off the roof displaying an 800 square foot cloud-shaped banner over the city’s rooftops. The message on the banner read “Amazon, Microsoft: How Clean is Your Cloud?”

“People want to use innovative devices and technology like the Kindle and Windows Phone without having to connect to a cloud powered by dirty and dangerous energy,” said Greenpeace International IT Analyst Casey Harrell. “Amazon and Microsoft have some of the brightest, most innovative engineers in the business. They have the potential to power their cloud with green, renewable energy, but are falling behind competitors Google, Facebook and Yahoo in the race to build a truly clean cloud.”

As more people around the world use the cloud to store and share photos, videos and documents, companies such as Amazon and Microsoft are building more data centers that house thousands of computers and consume tremendous amounts of electricity. The growth and scale of investment in the cloud is mind-blowing, with estimates of a 50-fold increase in the amount of digital information by 2020.1 On April 17, Greenpeace International released its report How Clean is Your Cloud?, which assessed 14 global cloud computing companies on their environmental performance in areas of transparency, energy efficiency, renewable energy investment and clean energy advocacy.

The report showed that both Amazon and Microsoft are powering a majority of their cloud infrastructure with dirty and dangerous coal and nuclear power. Neither company has a data center siting policy that gives preference to renewable energy like other industry peers. Amazon operates its cloud services in almost complete secrecy and refuses to give any information about the energy sources used to power its cloud.2

“Today’s protest kickstarts Greenpeace’s new global ‘Clean Our Cloud’ campaign,” stated Harrell. "We aim to mobilize millions of people around the globe who love the convenience and functionality of the cloud, but don't want this great 21st-century technology to be powered by a 19th-century power source like coal.”

Greenpeace's Clean Our Cloud campaign is calling on industry laggards Microsoft, Amazon and Apple to join the growing number of tech companies who are taking steps to power their clouds substantially with renewable energy. Yesterday, Greenpeace activists protested at the European headquarters of Apple, Microsoft and Amazon in Ireland, Turkey and Luxembourg, respectively.

In Seattle, activists wearing t-shirts and holding balloons with the twitter hashtag #cleancloud handed out leaflets addressed to Microsoft and Amazon employees. The aim of this protest is to highlight Amazon and Microsoft’s dirty energy problem and to communicate with employees the urgent need to clean our cloud.

Greenpeace is calling on Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and all IT companies with cloud services to:

  • Be more transparent about their energy usage and carbon footprint, and to share innovative solutions so that the rest of the sector can improve
  • Develop a siting policy that demonstrates a preference to build data centers in areas where clean energy can power the facility
  • Invest in or directly purchase renewable energy
  • Demand that governments and electric utilities increase the amount of renewable electricity available on the grid

For more information, click here.

—————

1. http://www.greenpeace.org/clean-our-cloud-report page 5

2. http://www.greenpeace.org/clean-our-cloud-report page 37, 44

With restaurants and supermarkets becoming less viable options during the pandemic, there has been a growth in demand and supply of local food. Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County / Flickr

By Robin Scher

Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A technician inspects a bitcoin mining operation at Bitfarms in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec on March 19, 2018. LARS HAGBERG / AFP via Getty Images

As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
OR-93 traveled hundreds of miles from Oregon to California. Austin Smith Jr. / Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs / California Department of Fish and Wildlife

An Oregon-born wolf named OR-93 has sparked conservation hopes with a historic journey into California.

Read More Show Less
A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built along the Monongahela River, 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, on Sept. 24, 2013 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. The plant, owned by FirstEnergy, was retired the following month. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

By David Drake and Jeffrey York

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The Big Idea

People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.

Read More Show Less