The radical Greenpeace
movement has released a study of what the group says is the carbon footprint of the top video streaming companies, including Hulu and Netflix. Greenpeace reported that shows such as “The Crown” and “Black Mirror,” as well as movies, which are transmitted to viewers using televisions, cell phones, laptops and desktops.
Greenpeace gave Netflix a D grade, while Hulu received an F. Amazon Prime was given but the mediocre rank of C. Getting the best grade of all was YouTube, which is owned by Google. The latter has been praised by Greenpeace in the past.
Greenpeace evaluated companies on factors including energy mix, commitments to renewable energy, transparency on energy sources and advocacy for clean energy.
In a press release, Greenpeace stated that while Apple, Google, Facebook, and newcomer Switch are taking strides toward “100% renewable energy,” Netflix, Amazon Web Services, and Samsung are lagging. Greenpeace USA's report, “Clicking Clean: Who is Winning the Race to Build a Green Internet?” examines the dedication of the large data center operators and nearly 70 of popular websites and applications. It quoted Greenpeace USA Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook:
"Amazon continues to talk a good game on renewables but is keeping its customers in the dark on its energy decisions….Netflix must embrace the responsibility to make sure its growth is powered by renewables, not fossil fuels and it must show its leadership here."
Greenpeace criticized Amazon Web Services, upon which Netflix relies, for its “almost complete” lack of transparency about its carbon footprint, and for operating in states such as Virginia that rely heavily on nonrenewable power.
According to Greenpeace, Nenon-renewablee of the largest data footprints of the companies profiled, “accounting for one third of internet traffic in North America and contributing significantly to the worldwide data demand from video streaming.” The Greenpeace statement said that while Netflix once announced its intention to fully offset its carbon footprint, Netflix is “likely turning to carbon offsets or unbundled renewable energy credits, which do little to increase renewable energy investment.”
The report also evaluates Asian companies including Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, and Naver. The group called on East Asian companies to use “clean power.” It praised Switch, an IT company, as having made the best progress towards transitioning its data center fleet to renewables “through both procurement and aggressive advocacy.”
The report added, “The IT industry's energy footprint accounted for 7% of global electricity in 2012, a number set to grow as global internet traffic increases, and even exceed 12% by 2017. Video streaming accounts for 63% of global internet traffic in 2015, and is projected to reach about 80% by 2020, according to Cisco Network Traffic Forecast, 2016.”
In 2014, Greenpeace was accused of causing a considerable carbon footprint of its own. Media reports revealed that Pascal Hustig -- a highranking member of GReenpeace -- commuted each week 500 miles round trip for two years between Luxembourg and the Netherlands and thus creating more than 300 pounds of carbon. The resulting "Fly-gate" cost the organization credibility, while some donors dropped out. At the time, Greenpeace was operating on a $95 million annual budget.