Facebook promises net-zero carbon emissions across ‘value chain’ by 2030

15 Sep 2020

Image: © Sundry Photography/Stock.adobe.com

Facebook is the latest tech giant to pledge to produce zero carbon emissions by 2030. It has also launched a climate misinformation hub.

Facebook has said it is “well on track” to reducing its impact on the planet and by the end of this decade will achieve net-zero emissions across its global operations. This would include direct emissions from sources it owns and controls, as well as indirect emissions from the powering of its global facilities.

Writing in a blog post, the company said that by 2030 it aims to be carbon neutral across its entire “value chain”, which also includes third-party companies in its supply chain and other factors such as business travel and employee commuting.

“We are committed to tackling climate change through our global operations, value chain and beyond,” the company said.

“We are taking a holistic approach to decarbonisation and sustainability that goes well beyond our own business. We want to enable carbon-removal solutions for the broader industry and harness the strength of our platforms to drive climate action with science-based goals.”

In an effort to tackle climate misinformation, Facebook also revealed its new Climate Science Information Centre, which aims to provide reliable, science-based information to its billions of users. It will feature facts, figures and data from organisations including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN Environment Programme and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We are taking important steps to reduce our emissions and arm our global community with science-based information to make informed decisions and tools to take action,” Facebook said. “We hope these efforts demonstrate that Facebook is committed to playing its part and helping to inspire real action in our community.”

Responding to criticism

In July, Facebook was criticised in a piece in The New York Times that claimed the company allowed climate crisis denialism on the social network if it was tagged as opinion, making it exempt from fact-checking measures.

In one example from September 2019, it was reported that a group called the CO2 Coalition – which claims CO2 is good for the planet – was able to overturn a fact-checking decision because it had labelled its post as an opinion piece. Speaking with TechCrunch, Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, denied the claim that opinion pieces are not fact-checked.

“We look at the stuff that starts to go viral,” he said. “There’s not a part of our policies that says anything about opinion pieces being exempted at all.”

Facebook’s announcement comes just one day after Google announced its own plans to achieve net-zero emissions across its global operation by 2030. The search giant promised to spend more than $5bn in renewable energy investments with an output of 5GW, and reduce carbon emissions in 500 cities by one gigaton annually by 2030.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic