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Greenpeace piles the pressure on Amazon over its dirty data centres

dirty data centres

Greenpeace are warning Amazon over the environmental impact of its data centres. Creative Commons: Tom, 2010

A new war of words has broken out between Amazon and Greenpeace, as the tech company announces the release of its new Amazon Fire Phone.

Greenpeace has long criticised Amazon over its green credentials it aimed to highlight the environmental impact of technology companies’ data centres.

Now Greenpeace is using the release of Amazon’s latest gadget – the Amazon Fire Phone – to further highlight what it calls a “stone-age” machine with regards to how its cloud-hosted services are powered.

The group’s senior energy campaigner, David Pomerantz told V3:

Cloud-based storage of photos and other smartphone data doesn’t have to harm the environment. Apple, in stark contrast to Amazon, is powering its iCloud with 100% renewable energy. If Amazon wants to offer its customers a more modern phone, it could start by powering its operations with modern, renewable forms of electricity like the wind and solar power currently being employed by its competitors.

Greenpeace has praised Amazon’s rivals, including Apple and Microsoft, for their plans to utilise renewable energy sources.

In recent week’s Microsoft has announced the purchase of its biggest wind farm to date to power its services, while Apple announced all of its data centres would soon be powered with clean energy sources.

In a report, released earlier this year, Greenpeace aimed to assess the environmental impact of 19 of the largest information technology companies, finding mixed results.

Some, such as Apple and Google, have made measurable commitments to reducing their carbon footprints  and improving their energy transparency. Six of the major cloud brands have committed to powering data centres entirely with renewables

Others, however, didn’t score so highly. On its ‘Company Scorecard’ Amazon scored a D in energy efficiency and mitigation while getting a failing grade of F in their three other categories; energy transparency, renewable energy and commitment to siting policy, renewable energy deployment and advocacy.

Greenpeace said the company operated the ‘dirtiest’ servers of any major tech giant, with only 15% of its energy coming from clean sources.

But Amazon has hit back this week, saying the information is inaccurate and misleading. It stressed that the company “continues to be committed to working hard… to offer Cloud services in an environmentally friendly way.”

Worldwide, digital warehouses use about 30 billion watts of electricity. The Uptime Institute, a leading data centre research and consulting organisations, estimates data centres consume as much as 3% of global electricity production.

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