Cloud and datacentre giants unite to create climate neutral EU datacentre industry by 2030

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Twenty-five European cloud and colocation providers have formed a pact centred on accelerating the datacentre industry’s progress in becoming a climate neutral market by 2030.

The providers have joined forces with 17 trade associations – including TechUK – to form the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, as a show of its commitment to supporting the wider effort to cut carbon emissions across Europe.

This goal is a core aim of the European Green Deal, which is geared towards establishing Europe as the first climate neutral continent in the world by 2050, and also taps into the European Data Strategy’s goal of ensuring all datacentres within the European Union are climate neutral by 2030.

In short, this means the providers have committed to taking steps, such as cutting their carbon emissions to a minimum, to ensure their operations will not contribute to the onset of climate change.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Equinix, CyrusOne, OVHCloud and Digital Realty are among the 25 cloud and datacentre providers who have pledged their support for the pact so far.

The pact itself consists of a Self-Regulatory Initiative, which has been co-developed with the European Commission, and will see participants commit to making a series of changes to how their facilities operate that are geared towards making them more environmentally friendly.

As such, participants will be set measurable targets for attainment in 2025 and 2030 focused on improving the energy efficiency of their datacentres and reducing the amount of water used to keep them cool.

Operators will also be set targets to encourage them to purchase and run their facilities using 100% carbon-free energy, recycle the waste heat generated by their operations and prioritise the repair and reuses of the servers inside their facilities.  

The progress operators make in these areas will be subject to monitoring twice a year by the European Commission.

Frans Timmermans, European Commission executive vice-president for the European Green Deal, said the formation of the pact is significant given how reliant the European economy is on datacentres to function.

“Citizens across Europe use ever more technology to go about their daily lives and want this technology to also help secure a sustainable future for people and planet,” said Timmermans.

“Today’s pledge from important parts of the data industry constitutes a promise to society and offers a welcome first step towards achieving our common ambitions for a smart and sustainable future.”

Apostolos Kakkos, chair of the European Data Centre Association (EUDCA), said the industry has a duty of care to ensure its role as a “supporting pillar” of the digital economy does not come at the expense of the environment.   

“Datacentres are the supporting pillars of the fourth industrial revolution and, as seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, are essential infrastructure of not only the digital economy but of the entire global economy. It is our duty to commit to a self-regulatory initiative that will help to ensure the operational availability, sustainability and the future of our industry.”

Alban Schmutz, chair of the Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe (CISPE) trade association, added: “With cloud infrastructure the backbone of the European Union’s digital economy, our industry is committed to the idea that we must all play a central role in addressing climate change.

“This commitment underpins a roadmap for Europe’s cloud infrastructure industry to offer climate neutral services to customers by 2030.”

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