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Greenpeace: Google tops list of greenest IT companies

Greenpeace: Google tops list of greenest IT companies

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Greenpeace's "green" ranking of the world's largest IT companies is out. Find out how companies stack up in green tech development, energy consumption and political advocacy.

Greenpeace has crowned Google the "greenest" in its Cool IT Leaderboard, a list that scrutinizes and ranks the tech, political advocacy and energy consumption of the world's largest telecom and Internet companies.

Google's political advocacy, the disclosure of its energy footprint and high-profile investment in renewable energy ($915 million and counting) helped it grab the top spot. Google, along with Cisco and Dell, also stood out for getting more than 20 percent of their energy use through renewable sources. Greenpeace did criticize Google for shutting down the RE<C (renewable energy cheaper than coal) initiative as well as the elimination of free home energy management web application PowerMeter.

Greenpeace also put a positive emphasis on companies that have developed IT energy-related products that improve efficiency or use cleaner energy, an area where Cisco has thrived.

While IBM wasn't on the bottom of the list, it did drop considerably (from 3rd to 9th place). The company's membership in a trade association that is trying to block the European Union's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets contributed to its fall from green grace.

The top five (score out of 100)

  • Google: 53
  • Cisco: 49
  • Ericsson: 48
  • Fujitsu: 48
  • Vodafone: 45

The bottom five (score out of 100)

  • Oracle: 10
  • TCS: 11
  • Telefonica: 11
  • NEC: 15
  • NTT: 19

To be clear, this list isn't the final word on who is "green" and who's not. Companies that refuse to disclose information on energy consumption or use of renewable power are heavily penalized by Greenpeace. It's the primary reason Oracle landed at the bottom of the list. Meaning, it's hard to really know where Oracle truly stands.

Other companies, such as Apple and Facebook, were not on the list at all. Greenpeace blasted Apple (again) for not "demonstrating leadership or elected to pursue market opprotunities to drive IT energy solutions that many of its competitors have, despite record profits and large cash reserves." But as I reported last year, Apple is planning to build a solar farm near its massive $1 billion data center complex in North Carolina.

Greenpeace said Facebook will be included in next year's list following the social network company's new policy to use renewable energy whenever possible and its program with with energy efficiency company OPower to develop a Facebook app.

Why all the attention on IT anyway? Greenpeace has the rather lofty goal of renewable power meeting 95 percent of the world's energy needs by 2050.  The environmental campaign group believes IT companies, which use increasingly huge amounts of energy with the rise of cloud computing, can be critical drivers of change away from fossil fuels and toward clean power.

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure