Google praised by Greenpeace for energy record: Apple, not so much

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Google's support for a stronger US clean energy policy and EU clean energy targets has seen it leap to the top of Greenpeace's annual Cool IT Leaderboard.

The list  ranks 21 IT companies on their clean energy leadership potential, willingness to embrace clean energy solutions and potential to influence energy decisions. Google now tops the list, followed by Cisco and Fujitsu.

"Technology giants have a real opportunity to use their power and influence to change how we produce and use energy - Google tops the table because it’s putting its money where its mouth is by pumping investment into renewable energy," says Greenpeace International IT analyst Gary Cook.

"The IT sector might like to consider itself forward-thinking, but it is keeping far too quiet while the dirty energy industry continues to exert undue influence on both the political process and financial markets."

Apple, however, isn't even included, as it's failed to demonstrate leadership or try to drive IT energy down in the way that many of its competitors have - despite its record profits and large cash reserves.

Facebook was left out for the same reasons - although, as Greenpeace acknoledges, it's now changed its policies. It's committed to a renewably powered Facebook, and announced a partnership with Opower to use the Facebook platform to help its users compare their energy usage. As a result, it'll be included in the list next year.

"The IT industry must use its influence, innovative spirit and technological know-how to overcome the dirty energy companies who are holding on to the status quo, and holding us back from a transition to a renewable energy economy," says Cook.

"What we’re seeing is a lot of talk from companies about moving toward clean energy, but so far, not much of action."

Greenpeace is particularly concerned about the rapid expansion of global telecom infrastructure, and says that data centers that power the Cloud are driving significant energy demand in many sectors - much of it from dirty sources such as coal and diesel.

The full report is here.