AMSTERDAM ( TheStreet -- Environmental group Greenpeace has jumped on the iPad bandwagon, using the tablet's imminent launch to highlight environmental concerns about the IT sector.

Greenpeace says it's not knocking Apple ( AAPL) specifically, but warns that the proliferation of Internet devices like the iPad could increase the IT sector's carbon footprint.

"The growth of Internet computing could come with a huge jump in greenhouse gas emissions," said Greenpeace, in a prepared statement. "The boom could see Internet servers become a major cause of climate change."
iPad

The iPad, which hits stores on Saturday, is one of the most eagerly-awaited technology launches in recent years. Reports have suggested that iPad preorders are going through the roof. One analyst has even forecast that 1 million or 2 million iPads will be sold by its April 3 debut.

"To be clear: We are not picking on Apple," said Greenpeace, in a statement. "We are not dissing the iPad. But maybe someone can come up with an app that calculates the carbon footprint of using different Web sites based on their location and energy deals."

Greenpeace's worry is that increasing use of Internet devices such as the iPad will drive up the amount of energy needed by data centers powering Web services.

Energy consumption in the tech sector is certainly a big issue; the environmental group points to research from McKinsey that warns that data centers and telco networks will triple their energy needs by 2020.

Set against this backdrop, environmental campaigners want companies to reduce their data centers' reliance on coal and focus more on renewable energy.

Social networking site Facebook, which is building a new data center in Oregon, has recently come under fire for partnering with a utility that uses coal-based power.

Google ( GOOG) has stated its desire to be carbon neutral and has already built data centers close to sources of hydroelectric power. Although Google keeps its IT infrastructure specifics under wraps, the search giant claims that it operates the world's most efficient data centers, which use about half the energy of typical server and storage hubs.

On a device level, Apple has played up the iPad's eco-credentials, which include a mercury-free LCD display and a recyclable enclosure.

Apple has not yet responded to TheStreet's request for comment on this story.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

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