Facebook announced today that it has been exceeded one of its biggest environmental goals: it succeeded in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 94 percent by 2020. It had previously pledged to reduce global warming emissions by 75 percent. The company said it had also achieved its “net zero emissions” goal – not to release more emissions into the atmosphere than it can remove.
Facebook also announced that it had achieved a different goal: to now purchase enough renewable energy to cover 100 percent of its global operations, including its offices and data centers. But that doesn’t mean that all of its operations are actually powered by renewable energy sources like solar and wind power – at least not yet.
Renewable energy is on the rise, but most electricity grids still depend on fossil fuels. When companies cannot buy enough renewable energy from utilities because there is not enough supply, they buy renewable energy certificates that indicate that the company has invested somewhere in renewable energy projects. Those projects can be located anywhere and certificates have been sold for so cheap that critics claim them do not really lead to more renewable energy generation Facebook also relies on renewable energy certificates, but it focuses on signing long-term contracts to support construction of new solar and wind developments in the same places where it operates. It has invested in 63 new renewable energy projects that are on the same power grid as the data centers.
The next goal is to achieve net zero emissions across the supply chain and other indirect emissions from things such as employee travel and commuting by 2030. To achieve that goal, Facebook says it has developed environmental standards for its suppliers. It also plans to rely more heavily on emerging technologies that extract carbon dioxide from the air.
Facebook has also recently tried to limit climate change misinformation on its platform. Last year it launched a “Climate Science Information Center” in some countries. In the UK, this year has begun to add a label to a number of climate change messages referring people to its information center. It all comes on the heels of criticism from activists and policymakers about how misinformation about climate change continued to grow on the site, including a high-profile case where Facebook reversed a ‘false’ rating that its fact-checkers gave to an opinion piece based on incorrect information.
“We know that the next 10 years will be the defining time for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and that we have a role to play in this effort – both as a platform connecting people to information and as a global company supporting climate action. , Urvi Parekh, Facebook’s director of renewable energy, wrote in one blog today.