Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

'Clean Cloud' Panel: Silicon Valley Giants Agree On Green Energy

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 3, 2015

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Sustainability gurus from Facebook, Yahoo and Ebay all agreed that green energy is good for their users and good for the planet, on a panel Tuesday evening in San Francisco at the Commonwealth Club of California.

The "Clean Cloud" event was part of The Commonwealth Club's sustainability initiative, "Climate One." Its goal is, "Changing the conversation about energy, economy and environment" by broadcasting live events featuring local business leaders and advocacy groups.

The panel was moderated by veteran TV and radio presenter Greg Dalton, and founder of Climate One, and will be shown on Northern California stations KRCB TV 22 and heard on PBS radio station KQED.

The problem with the panel was that they all agreed with each other. Even the policy analyst from Greenpeace agreed with the corporate giants, that sustainability was good.

There was nothing much new learned about the green policies or politics of these Silicon Valley giants and their massive data centers. 

Climate One has a significant challenge ahead in its mission to change "conversations" if it chooses to hold such conversations among the choir.  Everyone agrees on all of these types of  issues, which they do around here.

There were some lost opportunities Tuesday evening to push some of the assembled panelists on some key issues: such as their practice of locating data centers in poor municipalities that offer the best tax incentives.

And also on the Silicon Valley giants' political contributions and lobbying efforts and which politicians are funded. They stayed away from those subjects and anything slightly controversial, that might indeed have started a conversation.

Would Ebay, Yahoo and Facebook actively push for green initiatives with their users, someone asked? No, not directly was the answer but their platforms enable many groups to organize, and that counts, they said. The Freecycle "movement" began on Yahoo Groups.

Would Yahoo directly promote Green/Sustainability issues through its media efforts?

Yahoo creates a lot of original media content these days in promoting technology news and tech products and has hired many top reporters such as David Pogue and Rafe Needleman. Would it hire top reporters for a Green media initiative? I'd love to know.

What are these companies doing to support green energy initiatives locally? Among their users? Among their staff? Climate One should dig a little a little deeper and see how much is talk and how much is walk — otherwise it's a free PR slot. 

The panelists spent a lot of time patting each other on the back. 

"Clean Cloud" panelists were: Gary Cook, Senior Policy Analyst, Greenpeace International; Lori Duval, Global Director, Green, eBay; Christina Page, Global Director, Energy and Sustainability Strategy, Yahoo; Bill Weihl, Sustainability Guru, Facebook.

Home page | Climate One

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