US content network delivery firm Cloudflare is aiming to remove its historic carbon use from the environment over the next four years.

The CDN company said it will commit not just to using 100 percent renewable energy for its operations, but will also remove all historical carbon its global network has emitted since its founding in 2010 by 2025.

“Internet usage has skyrocketed in the last couple of years, growing over 80 percent on our network, and is showing no signs of slowing down. For every search you do, online order you make, and video call you join, there is an environmental impact from the physical data centers, servers, and other physical infrastructure the Internet relies on,” said Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare. “We want to give the Internet a clean slate to help build toward a future where it’s easy for anyone to create, build, and run their applications on green energy while remaining secure, fast, and reliable.”

Matthew Prince
– Techcrunch

Cloudflare says its edge network is powered by renewable energy already but acknowledges some of its data centers are located in third-party facilities that are not 100 percent powered by renewable energy. The company made its first renewable energy purchase for its North American data center and office output in 2018. It said this week it had matched its total global operations in both 2019 and 2020. The company reached out to DCD to say it currently doesn't have any PPAs in place.

“In 2020, to match the usage of our network, Cloudflare purchased RECs, I-RECs, REGOs, and other energy attribute certificates from the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, South Africa, and Turkey among others,” the company said in a blog post. The company said it expects to be fully aligned with all RE100 criteria, including its market boundary criteria, by the end of 2021.

Cloudflare said it is still in the process of calculating its historic carbon footprint, as it only has actual carbon emissions dating back to 2018 and its first renewable energy purchase.

“Prior to 2018, we are combing through all of our purchasing, shipping, energy usage, and colocation agreements to reconstruct how much energy we consumed and when,” the company said.

To help its customers make more eco-friendly choices, the company has also launched Green Compute on Cloudflare Workers; a service that allows workloads to run exclusively on parts of its Edge network located in facilities powered by renewable energy. The company also provides a report showing customers' carbon footprints on Cloudflare’s network, known as a Carbon Impact report.

While many companies have announced short term goals to match their power use with renewable energy through the likes of PPAs and long term goals about becoming carbon neutral, few have made commitments to become carbon negative or address historic emissions.

In 2020 Microsoft announced it would become carbon negative by 2030, and by 2050 aims to have removed from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.

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