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December 28, 2011
Greenpeace Ends Unfriend Coal Campaign Targeting Facebook
    by Robert Kropp

The social media giant agrees to reduce its reliance on coal-powered electricity by siting its data centers where renewable energy sources are available.

The absolute emissions from the burning of fossil fuels in 2010 were the highest in human history, according to a recent report from the Global Carbon Project (GCP), and the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is now higher than it has been for at least 800,000 years.

The burning of coal was responsible for more than half of the emissions in 2010.

With enough new coal-fired power plants scheduled for construction to equal the emissions of all coal-burning activities since the beginning of industrialization, Greenpeace has for almost two years pressured Facebook, the social media giant, to reduce its reliance on coal for powering its data centers.

In a
report published in April, Greenpeace found that Facebook relied on coal for powering more than 53% of its facilities, slightly less than Apple but far more than several other IT giants.

Earlier this month, Greenpeace announced that it has ended its Unfriend Coal campaign, after Facebook agreed to adopt a siting policy for its data centers that will give preference clean and renewable energy supply. Facebook is currently building a data center in Lulea, Sweden, which will be powered by hydroelectric energy and cooled naturally by the local climate.

Facebook also agreed to collaborate in the
Open Compute Project, the principles of which include minimizing environmental impacts whenever possible. The company will also engage with its utility providers to increase the supply of clean energy.

"If all the Internet giants would unfriend coal, it would send a message to utilities and investors that couldn't be ignored," Greenpeace stated. "Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has shown today what other IT leaders should be doing."

Facebook also announced that it has hired former Google Green Czar Bill Weihl to head its sustainability efforts. While at Google, Weihl oversaw the company's ambitious renewable energy initiatives, which included investments of more than $850 million in renewable energy projects. Weihl, who left Google in November, is scheduled to join Facebook in January.


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