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Greenpeace praises Facebook's 'unfriending' of coal

Facebook reveals its carbon footprint from 2011. The company uses 23 percent clean and renewable energy, but hopes to increase the percentage to 25 by 2015.

Facebook posted the breakdown of its carbon footprint today, drawing praise from Greenpeace for the company's efforts and transparency.

Facebook reported that its greenhouse gas emissions from data centers, office space, employee commuting and air travel, data center construction and sever transportation totaled about 285,000 metric tonnes in 2011. It takes the same amount of energy to serve each active Facebook user as it would to produce one medium latte, three large bananas or a couple glasses of wine, according to the post.

Facebook's energy sources were 23 percent clean and renewable, 27 percent coal, 17 percent natural gas, and 13 percent nuclear. Twenty percent is "uncategorized" because it involves spot energy purchases by utilities, which could involve any form of production. The social network said it wants to reach the 25 percent mark for clean and renewable energy by 2015.

Facebook wrote:

In the short-term, reducing our impact and significantly altering our energy mix will be challenging. The reality is that as a fast-growing company our carbon footprint and energy mix may get worse before they get better. When we bring our Lulea, Sweden, data center online in 2014, we expect to see a steady increase in the clean and renewable sources powering our data center operations. And we've set a company goal to derive at least 25 percent of our energy mix from clean and renewable sources by 2015. We know this is going to be a stretch for us, and we're still figuring out exactly what it will take to get there.
Greenpeace said Facebook's willingness to reveal its carbon footprint numbers is commendable. The nonprofit pushed for Facebook to lead other businesses in clean energy, launching an "Unfriend Coal" campaign that had Facebook users asking the company to make the switch.

"Facebook has committed to being fully renewably powered, and today's detailed disclosure and announcement of a clean energy target shows that the company means business and wants the world to follow its progress," Greenpeace International Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook said in a statement.

He added: "Unfortunately, the transparency Facebook exhibited today is still rare among companies who are racing to build our online world, where some of the largest companies behind the cloud, such as Amazon, still refuse to disclose any information about their energy use and mix."

Greenpeace hopes Facebook's actions will encourage other companies to do the same. The nonprofit said the company's current policy of prioritizing clean energy for new data centers will help it exceed its 25 percent goal.