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Greenpeace has recently released their first-ever “clean energy scorecard” for China’s tech industry. Titled Clean Cloud 2020, the report tracks renewable energy use, and highlights the best and worst environmental offenders within the country’s booming tech sector. With China’s internet industry predicted to grow immensely within the next couple of years, Greenpeace’s report emphasises the need for the companies to urgently transition to using 100% renewable energy in order to help combat the escalating global climate crisis.
For the first time, Greenpeace is calling attention to Chinese technology giants’ massive energy consumption with a brand new report on the industry’s renewable energy use. In their ranking from the best to worst companies, Bain Capital backed ChinData Group won out, outdoing bigger and well-known names Alibaba and Tencent, who were slammed for their lack of initiative to switch to cleaner energy sources.
The research, which was conduction in collaboration with the North China Electric Power University, evaluated 15 of the largest cloud and independent data operator companies in China based on transparency, energy efficiency and carbon reduction, renewable energy performance and government and industry influence. Altogether, the 15 largest companies that were analysed in the report represents 70% of the public cloud market and 85% of the market share of independent data centres.
The study was conducted in light of China’s significant energy use stemming from the country’s booming technology industry, which encompasses companies cloud and internet giants, independent data operators, digital service provider companies. According to Greenpeace’s figures, power consumption from this sector is projected to jump by two thirds between 2019 and 2013, and much of it continues to be powered by coal, a non-renewable fossil fuel that spews enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, driving up global temperatures and the climate crisis.
“Power consumption from China’s internet industry is skyrocketing…And it’s imperative that Chinese internet giants lead the sector to break away from its reliance on coal,&rdqace East Asia climate campaigner Ye Ruiqi.
More specifically, Greenpeace’s report points out the need for Alibaba, Tencent and GDS to dramatically scale up clean energy procurement and up their transparency. While ChinData has already committed to switching to 100% renewable energy, these 3 tech giants have lagged behind in showcasing any advances in switching to renewable sources of energy, and around 80% of the companies have not sufficiently disclosed energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions data.
Given that the oil and coal industry is at the core of our climate emergency, and that China’s energy consumption from the tech sector will only continue to boom, an industry-wide transition to using clean energy is vital. Though in the near term, companies might find it cheaper to sign power purchase contracts with coal power plants, China’s recent push for developing solar energy has already made this clean alternative a cheaper option in many major cities.
Lead image courtesy of Kyodo.