Social Media Facebook Has Reached Net Zero Emissions


As one of the largest entities of the internet, the social media giant Facebook consumes a huge amount of electricity to keep its servers operational.

But the company said that it has managed to reach net zero emissions, saying that it had reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 94% over the past three years.

And with the result of that, the company said that it can run its operations with 100% renewable energy.

This achievement paves the way for Facebook to achieve its wider target of net zero emissions across its entire supply chain by 2030.

Facebook announced this achievement days before the Earth Day, saying that "Facebook is empowering people to get informed and take action on climate change."

A logistics specialist moves a server rack in one of the data halls at Facebook's data center in Los Lunas, New Mexico.
A logistics specialist moves a server rack in one of the data halls at Facebook's data center in Los Lunas, New Mexico. (Credit: Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

In its newsroom post, Facebook said that:

"We set these goals in 2018, and today, we are one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy. We have contracts in place for more than six gigawatts of wind and solar energy across 18 states and five countries. All 63 projects are new and located on the same electrical grids as the data centers they support."

At that year, Facebook announced a more limited goal of cutting emissions by 75% by 2020.

But in just during the three year period, Facebook managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 94%, exceeding its 75% reduction goal.

Managing to go beyond that target bodes well for Facebook’s ability to hit its 2030 target, which incorporates not just the emissions caused by Facebook’s own data centers, but also those from the company’s suppliers, its hardware developers that designed and build its servers, to the outsourcing companies that work for Facebook.

Knowing that carbon emissions from data centers are similar to the aviation industry, something must be done to at least help Earth recover itself. And this kind of attempt has become a point of positive competition for some of the world’s largest tech companies.

“The biggest lever is to design and build some of the worlds most energy efficient data centers,” said Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer, Mike Schroepfer, a key member of Mark Zuckerberg's team. “But we’ve also become one of the world’s largest buyers of renewable energy.”

He said Facebook’s net zero pledge involved investment in less traditional areas as well.

For example, Facebook has its data centers cooled using less water, and less electricity, than traditional air conditioning units. This alone allows the data centers to use 10% less energy for cooling.

It should be noted though, that while Facebook is buying enough renewable energy to power its entire business, the company is yet to power its entire business with renewables. Instead, just like many other companies with a carbon neutral goal, Facebook simply buys renewable energy certificates to match fossil-generated power it is still forced to rely on.

Previously before this, Apple announced a $200 million fund to invest in reforestation projects it calls the "Restore Fund." Apple too has plans to become carbon neutral by 2030.