Amazon's application to withhold energy data from Australian public refused

According to Australia's greenhouse emissions watchdog in its annual corporate emissions and energy data report.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

Australia's greenhouse emissions watchdog, the Clean Energy Regulator, has published its report on corporate emissions and energy data, revealing that corporations operating in the country released almost 420 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017-18.

The annual report discloses the emissions and energy consumption of corporations, with this year's iteration including the energy data of Amazon for the very first time. From 2017-18, Amazon consumed 243,570 gigajoules (GJ) of energy and emitted around 56,000 tonnes of emissions.

Prior to having its energy data published in the report, Amazon had applied for its information to be withheld from public viewing. The application was refused, however, by Australia's Clean Energy Regulation.

Amazon declined to provide comment in relation to media requests about its application.

DXC Technology reported net energy consumption of 450,000 GJ while emitting over 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse emissions in Australia. This was an uptick from the previous year as it had a net energy consumption of 207,000 GJ and released around 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse emissions in 2016-17.

IBM, meanwhile, managed to cut down its energy consumption for 2017-18, from around 230,000 GJ to 205,000 GJ. It also released less greenhouse gases year over year, down to 50,000 tonnes from around 57,000 tonnes.

Australian data centre operator, NextDC, used around 735,000 GJ in energy in 2017-18, a 30% increase year over year. It also had higher greenhouse emissions for the year, going from 145,000 tonnes released to almost 185,000 tonnes.

Among the telcos in the emissions and energy consumption report, Telstra and Vodafone maintained similar levels of energy consumption from the previous year. Telstra used almost 6 million GJ of energy while Vodafone used around 785,000 GJ in 2017-18. In terms of greenhouse gases emitted, Telstra and Vodafone released 1.2 million tonnes and 179,000 tonnes, respectively.

Amazon in September promised it would reach 100% renewable energy use by 2030 and net-zero carbon across its business by 2040. In October, the company also announced three renewable energy projects that would aim to help the e-commerce giant reach its zero net carbon goal.

According to an Amazon spokesperson, AWS exceeded 50% renewable energy usage for 2018.

Similarly, Google in September announced it would increase its worldwide wind and solar energy portfolio by more than 40% to 5,500 megawatts, the equivalent of the capacity of a million solar rooftops. The deal, Google boasted, would be the biggest corporate purchases of renewable energy in history. 

Updated at 3:25pm AEST, 4 December 2019: updated Amazon's comment status.

Updated at 3:25pm AEST, 4 December 2019: added information from Amazon spokesperson about AWS's energy usage.

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