Facebook is committed to reaching net zero emissions across our value chain in 2030, aligning our efforts with the latest science on what is needed to transition to a zero-carbon future.
Science tells us that the next 10 years will be the defining decade to limit the worst impacts of climate change. As a global company, we recognize the tech industry’s environmental impact, and we embrace the responsibility of not only reducing our own footprint but also working with other industry leaders to drive climate action.
In 2020, we announced our most ambitious goal yet: Reach net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across our value chain in 2030, aligning with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to set clear targets to help limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
Achieving Net Zero Operational Emissions in 2020
In 2020, we achieved net zero emissions in our operations by reducing our GHG emissions by 94 percent, compared to 2017 levels, and supporting high-quality carbon removal projects. Over the next decade, we will continue to decarbonize our value chain and enable GHG reduction and carbon removal technology advancements.
Sourcing renewable energy for our operations has been a critical part of reducing our operational emissions, and we will continue to reduce our emissions by enhancing the sustainability performance of our facilities while maintaining 100 percent renewable energy. For our full value chain emissions, we are looking at reductions through the life cycles of our offices and data centers and by incorporating circular economy principles into our buildings, server hardware, and consumer products. We are also partnering with suppliers to build capacity on data reporting and to support on-site energy assessments that identify energy reduction opportunities and improve environmental performance.
In 2020, we worked to decrease emissions across our value chain, including:
- Covering 100 percent of the work-from-home electricity use of our employees with renewable energy. This was the first year that we incorporated telecommuting emissions into our environmental inventory.
- Covering the emissions associated with our transmission and distribution loss, which are currently reported in our indirect Scope 3 emissions, with renewable energy.
- Testing new WhatsApp code improvements based on Erlang and reducing compute storage by 25 percent—all while yielding the same performance.
Greenhouse Gas Accounting Methodology
We disclose our GHG emissions annually and are committed to increasing transparency around our impact. Our GHG footprint includes the emissions associated with running our business and data centers, as well as the indirect emissions created upstream from our operations and downstream in our products. These emissions correspond to Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
We have been reporting Scopes 1 and 2 for ten years, some categories of Scope 3 since 2015, and full Scope 3 categories since 2019. Our emissions are calculated annually and verified by a third party. We will continue reporting and updating our emissions boundaries as our business grows.
We invite you to learn more about our GHG Accounting Methodology here.
Reaching Net Zero in Our Value Chain in 2030
While our climate strategy is largely focused on achieving significant emission reductions, we recognize that some of our emissions will be hard to reduce by 2030. To reach our target of net zero emissions, we will remove an equivalent amount of any GHG we emit through high-quality carbon removal projects. Examples of that in 2020 included supporting forestry projects in East Africa and the Mississippi River Valley that removed 145,000 metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere. These nature-based solutions will serve as a bridging mechanism toward long-term decarbonization. In the future, we hope to invest in emerging carbon removal technologies (e.g., direct air capture) that will advance carbon removal efforts everywhere.
Moving forward, we will continue to partner with nonprofits, peers, and other experts to inform the composition of our project portfolio and ensure that our due diligence process is rigorous. We will prioritize carbon removal projects that:
- Are designed to be a durable, additional source of carbon sequestration.
- Support local livelihoods and enable climate justice and equity.
- Benefit the environment by supporting biodiversity, habitat, or water.
- Are quantified using existing standards and verified by a third party.
- Do not create adverse impacts elsewhere.
Reaching net zero emissions means that, for any emissions we cannot reduce, we are removing the same amount of GHGs from the atmosphere as we emit. A simple example of a carbon removal project is planting new trees to sequester carbon.
Some carbon offsets are considered “avoided emissions” offsets. An example of this type of offset is paying for someone to not cut down an existing forest that would otherwise likely be cut. While we believe investment in these types of offsets has a very important role in mitigating climate change and are critical from a biodiversity perspective, our net zero goal aims to remove our emissions rather than offset their effects. We follow the Science-Based Target initiative’s (SBTi) criteria for emissions reduction and removal in line with a pathway to limit temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
Assessing Our Climate-Related Risks
Facebook regularly conducts climate-related risks and opportunities assessments to better understand future climate-related transitional and physical risks. Transitional risks can occur as businesses recalibrate to a cleaner, green economy. To assess our transitional climate risks, we consider potential changes to climate policies as well as technological, market, and reputational risks. We believe we are better positioned for the transition to a greener future through our efforts to support our operations with 100 percent renewable energy and our goal to reach net zero emissions across our value chain in 2030.
To address our physical climate-related risks, we execute assessments using models and potential risk scenarios, including a business-as-usual pathway (RCP 8.5)2, to better understand how acute and chronic physical risks may impact our global facilities, data centers, and supply chain. In 2020, we assessed physical risks, such as wildfires, sea-level rise, water stress, floods, hurricanes, and heat stress, completing climate risk assessments for over 450 priority Facebook sites, an increase from 250 sites in 2019. Insights from these assessments help inform our operational strategy and identify key opportunities to weave climate-related considerations into our long-term resiliency strategy.
Additionally, we take steps to strengthen our climate resilience by incorporating the results of these assessments into key business decisions. For example, we developed a climate resilience toolkit with checklists and key questions for each type of physical risk to help develop resiliency plans. Teams also conduct tabletop exercises to practice responses to disruptive extreme weather events.
We bring this same approach to our global supply chain, where we work closely with suppliers to help them understand and prepare for climate risks in and to their business. For high-risk suppliers, we conduct deeper assessments and partner closely to ensure they have prepared sufficiently for climate risks.
Each year, we increasingly experience the negative social, economic, and public health impacts of climate change. Yet, these effects are not felt equally across different regions or populations. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and those in economically distressed communities are disproportionately affected by the extreme weather patterns, natural disasters, and pollution brought on by rising temperatures. Climate action and solutions can also often alienate these communities that are already experiencing racial and economic inequities, such as inadequate housing or access to resources. Lack of stakeholder engagement or needs assessments can further exacerbate the adverse socioeconomic and health impacts.
We are committed to supporting climate solutions that take impacted communities and groups into consideration, advancing projects and partnerships that incorporate equity and justice in their approach to addressing this urgent issue. As we invest in nature-based carbon removal and infrastructure around the globe, we will also prioritize projects that create environmental, social, and economic benefits for people most impacted by climate change.
For example, we supported a locally managed reforestation and sustainable development project in 2020 that will help sustain existing income and improve crop yields for commodities such as fruit, nuts, and timber for smallholder farmers in Kenya and Uganda. This also created a new source of income in the form of direct payments from sold carbon credits.
Facebook’s 2020 Net Carbon Footprint
4M metric tons of CO2e
Scope 3 GHG Emissions (metric tons CO2e)
Annual GHG Intensity
2 The high-emissions Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 global warming scenario from the IPCC.