Google announced that it has now invested in enough high-quality carbon offsets to essentially erase its carbon footprint, compensating for all the carbon the company ever emitted. Google first became carbon-neutral in 2007. The goal is for all of Google’s offices and data centers to run on carbon-free energy by 2030.
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“We’ll do things like pairing wind and solar power sources together and increasing our use of battery storage,” said chief executive Sundar Pichai, according to BBC. “And we’re working on ways to apply AI [artificial intelligence] to optimize our electricity demand and forecasting.” Pichai’s plan could create 12,000 more jobs over the next five years.
“Today’s announcement, combined with Google’s promise in May to no longer create artificial intelligence solutions for upstream oil and gas exploration, shows that Google takes its role in combating climate change seriously,” said Elizabeth Jardim, senior corporate campaigner for Greenpeace USA.
This is all good news. However, the idea of offsetting all the company’s past use of carbon may not hold up when you take a closer look. Google’s offsets have so far focused on capturing natural gas that escapes from landfills and pig farms. As BBC points out, isn’t this something governments should be enforcing already? Planting trees to capture carbon dioxide, a popular offset strategy, also has its problems, such as ensuring that those trees never burn down or are felled.
Google’s fellow tech giants have also announced plans to reduce or eliminate their carbon use. Microsoft plans to be carbon-negative by 2030. Amazon said it will be carbon-neutral by 2040, and Apple plans to have an entirely carbon-neutral business and manufacturing supply chain by 2030. And where the giants lead, smaller companies are apt to follow.
Image via Paweł Czerwiński