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Greenpeace Steps Up Facebook Campaign with Earth Day Target

<p>The latest round of the saga between the social network and the environmental group has Greenpeace urging Facebook to swear off coal-powered energy by Earth Day.</p>

It would make one heck of an Earth Day pledge: If Greenpeace gets its way, Facebook will swear off of coal-fired power by or on April 22, 2011.

It's the latest move in a long-running campaign that the environmental group has launched against the world's most prominent social network. Launched about a year ago, Greenpeace has been working to get Facebook off coal through, naturally, a Facebook group (among other methods).

But last week, during the Davos World Economic Forum, Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo was interviewed by Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook's director of marketing (and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's sister). As Naidoo writes:

I brought a gift to Randi, who is expecting a child -- a maternity shirt with the message "Facebook: Unfriend Coal" -- offered as a reminder that we need unprecedented cooperation and leadership from corporations, like Facebook, which have the political power, capital, and innovative drive help to stop climate change.


Her response? "We will love having you as a partner for that."

And thus is born another step in the campaign. Naidoo and Greenpeace are asking Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook to sign a pledge with four commitments:

1. Increase use of clean energy now;
2. Develop an infrastructure investment siting policy prioritizing Renewable Energy;
3. Educate your users about Facebook's energy & carbon footprint and need for strong US energy policy;
4. Advocate for clean energy at a local, national and international levels.

It's obvious why Greenpeace is targeting Facebook rather than, say, Myspace or any of the other social media also-rans: Getting a player as big as Facebook to sign on to clean power for data centers would make huge strides in both growing the market for renewably powered data centers as well as individual and corporate awareness about clean power.

But is this just tilting at windmills? My sense is that Facebook is in some ways a lot like other startups -- except of course for the $50 billion valuation and immense global reach -- they've simply not set up the infrastructure to have a comprehensive sustainability platform in place.

That's not to say that Facebook shouldn't have a CSO and serious commitments, but given the company's frantic pace of growth and development, I wonder where this falls on their priority list.

What do you think? Should Facebook make green energy its #1 (or maybe #2 or #3) priority? Is it even possible at this point to run a Facebook-sized compute facility with green power?

Let us know in the comments below.

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