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Greenpeace is launching a new online video campaign featuring musician/comedian Reggie Watts to pressure such tech players as Amazon and Twitter to get more of their energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro power.
The ClickClean campaign, from the Via Agency, Portland, Maine, follows an April report from Greenpeace finding little progress by Amazon, Twitter and some others toward using renewable energy to power their data centers. Dave Pomerantz, senior campaigner at Greenpeace, said those companies are using relatively little renewable power or have been reluctant to disclose where they get power.
By contrast, following a similar campaign by Greenpeace and Via two years ago, Apple pledged to get 100% of power for its servers from renewable sources, while Facebook and Google have made substantial progress, Mr. Pomerantz said.
The new campaign, which will include paid social-media ads, aims to be humorous and positive, said Steve Street, creative director at Via, which did the work pro bono. The videos themselves don't call tech companies out by name, unlike the April report by Greenpeace. But like most Greenpeace campaigns, the new effort is a step toward what could be escalating actions, such as boycotts or other protests.
"We don't want to take any of our options off the table," Mr. Pomerantz said. Amazon Web Services, the cloud service behind everything from Netflix to many individual music and photo libraries, is the primary target, he said.
"Amazon faces pretty intense pressure from competitors who already have made these exact changes," he said. "When you store photos with Apple, it's powered by clean energy. That's a pretty powerful differentiator for Apple. Is Amazon going to lose all their customers over that? No, I don't think we're naïve enough to believe that. But they will lose some customers."
"We didn't want to be overtly negative or preachy" with the campaign, said Via's Mr. Street. "We all use the internet, Greenpeace included."
But even without something hard hitting, Mr. Street believes a similar campaign two years ago moved Apple and others to act..
Greenpeace has tried a similar domino approach to changing palm-oil sourcing in the packaged-goods industry, targeting Unilever, Nestle and Procter & Gamble Co. in serial fashion in recent years. Even as it protests companies it sees moving too slowly, it heaps praise on others such as Apple, or P&G competitor Kimberly-Clark Corp., who've cooperated more with the group.
Amazon and Twitter spokespeople couldn't be reached or didn't respond to requests for comment by deadline. But a statement by Amazon after the April report by Greenpeace said its report made false assumptions about Amazon Web Services, that two of its 10 regions use 100% carbon-free power and that cloud services are inherently more energy efficient than traditional data centers.