Earlier this month, the enviro-activist group, Greenpeace, released a report, “How Clean Is Your Cloud?” which revealed that Apple relies heavily on coal to power its cloud-running data centers. This morning Greenpeace took its message straight to Apple’s customers, staging protests that involved releasing big clusters of black balloons at several of Apple’s flagship stores, calling for the company to end its relationship with coal power.
At the demonstration at the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, activists released dark balloons inside the store, which drifted to the store’s glassy ceiling, imitating the dark clouds produced by coal-fired power plants. In London, activists rebranded an Apple store with a large sign that read, “iCloud: Pollution. Automatic. Everywhere. Powered by outdated, dirty coal technology.” And in San Francisco, a protestor-mime dressed in all black washed imaginary soot from windows at a downtown Apple store.
According to Greenpeace, Apple gets just 15.3 percent of its energy from renewable sources, while 55 percent of its energy is powered by coal, making it the most coal-dependent company in its tech report. Apple has responded by disputing the numbers in the Greenpeace report, arguing that it doesn’t take into account that its new data center in North Carolina will largely be powered by on-site renewable energy. But will the balloons and other stunts prompt Apple to truly clean up its iCloud? Probably not, but it has gotten the company’s attention.
Apple isn’t the only tech company that Greenpeace has pranked recently. Last week in Seattle a group of activists erected a large banner on the side of Amazon’s new headquarters that read, “Amazon, Microsoft: how clean is your cloud?”