By Fabiana Negrin Ochoa
Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and data-center operator Chindata Group Holdings Ltd. were named the "greenest" companies in a Greenpeace ranking of China's tech titans, pushing forward with goals to reduce their carbon footprints at a time when Beijing is ramping up its sustainability drive.
Among cloud providers, Tencent moved up one place in the environmental organization's second annual ranking of Chinese companies on Wednesday, taking the top spot from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Greenpeace cited Tencent's energy transparency, increased procurement of renewable energy and a recently announced carbon-neutrality plan.
Tencent in January said it would chart a path to becoming carbon neutral--broadly defined as offsetting the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere by means such as tree planting or carbon sequestration.
E-commerce leader Alibaba fell to fourth place due to what Greenpeace described as a poor performance on clean-energy use and a lack of transparency. Alibaba hasn't made a commitment for carbon-neutrality, although its fintech affiliate Ant Group last month said it would achieve that status by 2030.
Telecommunications company Huawei Technologies Co. and internet search company Baidu Inc. took second and third place, respectively, among cloud providers.
Among data-center operators, Chindata Group Holdings Ltd. placed highest as the only Chinese tech major with a firm commitment to use 100% renewable energy, Greenpeace said. Chindata plans to hit that mark by 2030.
The rankings use publicly available data to grade China's 22 largest cloud and data-center companies based on energy transparency and efficiency, carbon reduction, renewable-energy performance, and government and industry influence.
The report comes as corporate efforts to reduce their environmental footprints are in the spotlight, with governments across Asia setting more ambitious and clearly defined decarbonization goals.
Beijing last year set the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 and a host of companies are following suit. Among oil majors, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and PetroChina Co. Ltd. target carbon neutrality by 2050, while CNOOC Ltd. has a 2060 goal.
Thirteen of the 22 companies in the Greenpeace report have begun to actively procure renewable energy, up from eight in 2019. But only Chindata and Baidu have reported renewable energy usage rates above 3% last year, Greenpeace said.
In the U.S., by comparison, Microsoft Corp. has said that by 2030 it will be carbon negative--removing or sequestering more carbon than it emits--and aims to have removed all the carbon it has ever emitted by 2050. Amazon.com Inc. has pledged to be net carbon neutral by 2040, while Alphabet Inc.'s Google says it has already eliminated its entire carbon legacy.
Greenpeace said major players in China's internet sector, which is primarily coal-powered, need to step up efforts to lend strong momentum to the country's decarbonization drive.
"Tech giants like Alibaba and GDS [Holdings Ltd.] have an opportunity to drive China's shift to a low-carbon economy, but currently they are falling behind their competitors," Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner Ye Ruiqi said. "The pace of clean energy adoption is not nearly fast enough."
GDS placed sixth among data-center operators on the organization's list.
Write to Fabiana Negrin Ochoa at email@example.com
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