Big tech also gets caught in Europe’s politics, focusing on efficiency and reducing dependency on Russian oil and gas.

Nike Inc. said it’s leaving the Russian market entirely after suspending operations in March. It joins other United States-based companies that have pulled out since Russia invaded Ukraine.

The world’s largest athletic-wear maker halted sales in Russia earlier this year, telling customers it couldn’t guarantee product shipments. The Beaverton, Oregon-based company had more than 100 stores in Russia.

“Our priority is to ensure we are fully supporting our employees while we responsibly scale down our operations over the coming months,” the company said in a statement June 23.

Hundreds of multinational businesses across industries have curtailed or shut down their operations in Russia this year. U.S. companies including McDonald’s Corp., Starbucks Corp. and HP Inc. have all made full exits.

In May, Nike said it wouldn’t renew an agreement with its biggest Russian retail franchisee, which managed dozens of Nike stores. It also said it would not make any new business commitments.

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Less than 1% of Nike’s total sales come from Russia and Ukraine, Chief Financial Officer Matt Friend said in March. Revenue from its Europe, the Middle East and Africa region accounted for $11.5 billion in 2021. That’s about 26% of total sales.

Nike Inc. ranks No. 10 in Digital Commerce 360’s database of Top 1000 e-retailers. It ranks e-retailers based on web sales.

Big tech also gets caught in Europe’s politics, specifically with energy

Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Denmark have teamed up to propose stricter efficiency measures at a meeting of European Union energy ministers on June 27. The aim is to get all 27 member states to sign up to the same rules on big tech to protect the European Union’s green energy targets. That means putting a tighter rein on the facilities that handle everything from social media posts to apps for businesses. With a squeeze on energy supplies because of Russia’s war on Ukraine, the political metrics are now changing for tech giants’ facilities.

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Policy makers’ push to green up the tech industry comes as the EU debates a package unveiled last year that would implement an ambitious objective to slash greenhouse gases at least 55% this decade. Then came President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February. In response, the EU announced it would phase out fossil fuels imported from Russia and proposed increasing the renewables and energy efficiency targets for 2030 even further.

Data centers require massive energy consumption

Tech giants running data centers in Europe say they already abide by their own high green standards. Microsoft Inc. is aiming to reduce the consumption of water, used for server cooling systems, in its operations by 95% by 2024. Meta said its hubs have achieved net-zero carbon emissions and are supported by 100% renewable energy.

Meta’s Netherlands center was to be “one of the most efficient in the world.” Nearly every watt entering the data center was to be used to run the computing equipment, according to local authorities. Still, it was expected to use 1,380 gigawatt hours of energy. That’s comparable to twice the total consumption of Zeewolde, a Netherlands town of about 23,000 people, development plans showed.

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Reducing dependency on Russian oil and gas

That highlighted the scale of the challenge for Europe when energy is more scarce, said Guus Dix, assistant professor at the University of Twente. He is also a climate activist who participated in a campaign against the Zeewolde data center.

“We only have limited energy available,” Dix said. “And we have other needs as well, like greening our houses and becoming less dependent on Russian oil and gas.”

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