Greenpeace: Microsoft's cloud efficiency programme a "drop in the ocean"

Microsoft’s efforts to track its energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions globally through a cloud based system is not “groundbreaking” in environmental terms, Greenpeace has said.

The environmental organisation has also criticised the lack of the company’s overall environmental attributes and initiatives, which are a “drop in the ocean” and hang limply when compared to other companies such as Google.

Microsoft’s Environmental Sustainability Platform (ESP) will look at and test over 600 facilities in 110 countries. The company will use it to view its energy, efficiency and environmental-performance in its operations to try and minimise its carbon footprint, it says.

However, according to Tom Dowdall, senior climate energy campaigner at Greenpeace, this is just a “drop in the ocean” for the company.

Speaking with TechEye, Dowdall said Microsoft did make it to Greenpeace’s guide to greener electronics, “but it made minimal progress in phasing out products”. This is “despite it having a small range, meaning it would have been simple to do”. 

“As the company is bigger in software we score it in our leader board of global tracking software but it is definitely not a leader,” Dowdall said. “We would like to see it reduce emissions on data centres, which it runs a lot of. 

“On the cloud platforms we would like it to use more renewable energy. It already does in Dublin but we need this to be global initiative. It has not as yet given any time-line in which it plans to do this. 

“It is more focused on Cloud and why businesses should use it.”

Microsoft, Dowall says, has a lot of cash but hasn’t made many investments in environmental practices, unlike Google. It could also, he says, use its political influence for energy and climate legislation, “something it doesn’t really do.”

“Its activities to date are a drop in the ocean compared to many,” he said.

The programme is not entirely without merit. It will help in terms of monitoring. But, Dowall thinks, Microsoft’s initiative is “useful in its own right but not groundbreaking.” 

Microsoft would not comment but a spokesperson did forward an environmental whitepaper.