Facebook announced today that it has exceeded one of its biggest environmental goals: it has managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 94 percent in 2020. It has previously pledged to reduce emissions on the planet by 75 percent. The company said it also achieved its "net zero emissions" goal - not putting more emissions into the atmosphere than it can take out.
Facebook also announced that it has achieved another goal: it now buys enough renewable energy to cover 100 percent of its global operations, which include its offices and data centers. But that doesn't mean that all of its operations are actually powered by renewable energy, like solar and wind power - at least not yet.
Renewable energy is on the rise, but most power grids still rely on fossil fuels. When companies can't purchase enough renewable energy from utilities because there isn't enough supply, they buy renewable energy certificates that signal that the company has invested in renewable energy projects somewhere. These projects can be located anywhere, and the certificates have been sold so cheaply that critics say they don't actually lead to more renewable energy. Facebook also relies on renewable energy certificates, but it focuses on signing long-term contracts to support the construction of new solar and wind developments in the same locations where it operates. The company has invested in 63 new renewable energy projects located on the same electrical grids as its data centers.
Its next goal is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030 for the entire supply chain and other indirect emissions that come from things like employee travel and commuting. To beat that goal, Facebook says it has developed environmental standards for its suppliers. It also plans to rely more heavily on new technologies that capture carbon dioxide from the air.
Facebook has also recently tried to limit misinformation about climate change on its platform. Last year, a "Climate Science Information Center" was established in some countries. In the UK this year, it began adding a label to some climate change messages that redirect people to its information center. All of this comes on the heels of criticism from activists and politicians over how misinformation about climate change has festered on the site, including one high-profile case of Facebook reversing a "false" rating that its fact-checkers gave an op-ed based on inaccurate information.