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“They Must Scale Up Action”: Greenpeace Ranks Chinese Tech Companies On Renewable Energy Use

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Last week Greenpeace published their first-ever “clean energy scorecard” for Chinese tech companies. Big names such as Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei, Jingdong and Baidu all featured and though there were a few bright spots the overall message was clear: Chinese tech needs to do a lot more when it comes to tackling our climate emergency.

“In the face of global climate crisis, there’s an urgent need to clean up our internet. Power consumption from China’s internet industry is skyrocketing, and it’s imperative that Chinese internet giants lead the sector to break away from its reliance on coal,” Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner Ye Ruiqi stated upon the release of the report.

“Many of China’s biggest tech companies have made some progress on renewable energy procurement in recent years, but they still lag behind their global peers,” Ye continued. “They must scale up their ambition and action.”

The report ranked some of the biggest names in Chinese tech and attempted to scrutinize their green credentials when it comes to renewable energy use. This task was complicated somewhat however, by the fact that “80% of companies analyzed have not publicly disclosed electricity consumption or greenhouse gas emissions data” (with Tencent being a notable exception at least in regard to its newer data centers). This is despite a number of companies in the sector increasingly attempting to position themselves as leaders on environmental issues in general.

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Chindata Group, a data center operator, came out top of the pile with an overall score of 80 (out of a possible 100) largely thanks to their aim to use 100% renewable energy, however Greenpeace’s report noted that it is the only company in the rankings to have set such a goal.

The report found that “more than half of companies analyzed have begun to actively procure renewable energy on a limited scale,” and that progress has picked up in this area in the last three years. Yet Greenpeace were far from glowing in their assessment of the Chinese tech sector’s efforts in this area. “Alibaba, GDS and Baidu fell short in the energy transparency category, as they do not disclose electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emission data,” it stated. “Tencent has made almost no progress on renewable energy procurement, despite leading on transparency.”

greenpeace chinese tech environment impact

Greenpeace’s scorecard for Chinese tech companies’ green credentials

In conclusion, Ye stated that, “China’s leading tech companies, including Alibaba, Tencent, and GDS, must dramatically scale up clean energy procurement and disclose energy use data.”

You can read the full report in Chinese here and find an abridged English version here.

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.