Big tech under accusation, consume more energy than Greece and Portugal

 Karma Metrix ESG Observatory: in 2020 Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google "burned" 49.7 million megawatt hours against 16.6 in 2018. Black jersey to Jeff Bezos' company  that records the strongest growth in CO2 emissions

26 May 2022

L. O.

If the Internet were a nation – says the Global Carbon Project – it would be the fourth most polluting in the world". And the confirmation comes from the analysis carried out by the ESG Karma Metrix Observatory  on the sustainability reports of the "Faang" – Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google – according to which in one year the five Big Tech consumed an amount of energy equal to 49.7 million megawatt hours (MWh), higher than Portugal (48.4 million MWh) and Greece (46.2 million MWh),  and almost like Romania (50 million MWh).

Index of topics

• Tripled CO2 emissions

• The "green" strategies of Apple and Google

• The ranking of the most polluting companies

CO2 emissions tripled

From 2018 to 2020, the energy consumption of the five American giants listed on the Nasdaq almost tripled. Moreover, according to the analysis, presented by in view of World Environment Day, in the last three years the 5 technology companies have emitted 98.7 million tons of CO2, more than the whole Czech Republic (92.1), with an aggregate increase in total emissions of 17% from 2018 to 2020.

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The "green" strategies of Apple and Google

Among the five companies, however, stand out "positive signs of CO2 reduction from Apple and Google – explains the study -, thanks to the greater weight of renewable energy sources and the active search for energy efficiency in their data centers". In fact, it is recalled that the Internet produces CO2 emissions both for the inefficient ways of creating websites and apps, and for the fossil fuels that power the data centers.

"On digital sustainability, some Big Tech have understood that the salvation of the planet passes primarily from the obsessive search for maximum technical efficiency and energy saving – comments Ale Agostini, creator of Karma Metrix, an algorithm that measures and improves the environmental impact of Internet sites in terms of CO2 emissions -. Planting trees is not enough. Every company that invests in digital must intervene at the root with measurements and actions that allow to contain the emissions deriving from digital".

The ranking of the most polluting companies

Analyzing individual companies in detail, the study finds that Apple has managed to save 14 million tons of CO2 in 2021, in addition to having created a $ 200 million "Recovery Fund" to invest in climate projects.

Google, despite having increased energy consumption, has reduced emissions "thanks to $ 3.3 billion of investments in renewable energy between 2010 and 2020", alongside an "extreme efficiency of data centers".

Amazon, on the other hand, is the company with the strongest growth in CO2 emissions, also because, "unlike the others, it has a stronger logistics component in addition to the IT component of Amazon Web Services".

Facebook "claims to have reached, in 2020, 100% renewable energy sources." However – reads the study – there are data centers and the metaverse", highly energy-intensive.  Zuckerberg's company has two pipelined data centers, in Kuna (USA) and in Spain.

Netflix is the company with the most limited weight being the only one not to have data centers.

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