‘Give us a clean cloud’

Greenpeace activists today installed a billboard in front of the Indian head office of Apple here in Bengaluru asking the company to “Clean our Cloud”. The activists along with Apple customers urged the head of Apple India to communicate their demands to the top bosses at Apple. Activists also interacted with the Apple customers across the city making them aware of how the company is using dirty coal to power its iCloud and is thereby party to destructive mountain top removal coal mining.

Billboard in front the Apple head office in Bengaluru

 The activists met the Country PR Manager, Apple India, Mr. Anand Baskaran and handed over the petitions signed by thousands of Apple customers across India. Mr. Baskaran acknowledged the issue and assured to take it up with the CEO of Apple.

This was a part of the worldwide protest where customers joined the call to ask Apple for a cleaner cloud as part of a campaign to get the company to power its massive data centres with renewable energy instead of coal. Similar activities were carried out in Apple stores in 6 other countries including US, Germany, China, Brazil, South Africa and Austria.

“The growing support from Apple’s customers – including the ones at stores and the Indian head office today; and the hundreds of thousands online – is a strong signal to Apple that it’s time to catch up to companies like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, which are taking steps to ensure that as the cloud grows, it grows in a clean way,” said Mrinmoy Chattaraj, Campaigner, Greenpeace India. 

Globally over 200,000 people have signed Greenpeace’s petition calling on Apple to commit to power its iCloud with clean energy, and over 100,000 people have viewed its “Apple – Introducing iCoal” video spoofing the company’s iCloud.

Greenpeace  released a report, “How Clean is Your Cloud?” on 17th April, 2012 that evaluated 14 global IT companies based on key elements needed to build a clean Data Center , including the electricity supply chain of over 80 data centres associated with major brands. The report found that Google and Yahoo are showing commitment to clean energy while Apple, Amazon and Microsoft rely heavily on dirty, outdated coal and nuclear energy to deliver their digital services.

Apple has made an investment in solar energy to provide a part of the current power for its growing data centre in North Carolina, but they can do much more to clean up their rapidly growing iCloud.  While Apple has stated that its Prineville, Oregon facility will be “100 % renewable” they haven’t disclosed enough information about how they will provide power for that data centre. The only known plans, disclosed by the electricity utility there, are that Apple will buy renewable energy “credits,” which may help Apple’s reputation but won’t power the iCloud with more of clean energy.

Apple should commit to greater transparency, follow the lead of Facebook, who has committed to power its data centres with renewable energy, and set a policy to build future data centres in locations that have access to renewable energy.  Apple can also use their market power to encourage utilities like Duke Energy, which will partly power their North Carolina data centre, to provide clean energy options and stop the use of mountaintop removal coal. 

Companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo are beginning to lead the sector down a clean energy pathway through innovations in energy efficiency, prioritizing access to renewable energy in siting their data centres, and demanding better energy options from electricity utilities and government decision-makers.  Greenpeace is calling on all IT companies with cloud services, including Apple to do the following.

  • To be more transparent about their energy usage and carbon footprint, and to share innovative solutions so that the sector as a whole can improve.
  • Commit to powering the cloud with renewable energy, and make access to renewable energy a key factor in deciding where to build future data centres.
  • Invest in or directly purchase renewable energy.
  • Demand that governments and electric utilities increase the amount of renewable electricity available on the grid.
  • Green its products and services by ensuring that its product suppliers and service providers in US and emerging markets like India adopt similar policies and give preference to green suppliers.
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