Many people criticize big multinational tech companies for issues related to privacy and energy consumption. Ecosia has been presented as a clean and environmentally-conscious alternative to Google. Here you’ll read about little known reasons Google is super sustainable and a pioneer in the environmental movement.
Check out the infographic below to visualize Google’s most sustainable projects:
Google is worried about climate change
The Google 2018 sustainability report states that humanity is “consuming natural resources at an astonishing rate” and that “global demand for resources was 1.7 times what the Earth’s ecosystems can regenerate in a year”. They promote the necessity of switching to a circular business model, as the take-make-waste one leads to climate change, extreme weather events, and plastic pollution. Google acknowledges that “continued greenhouse gas emissions pose an existential threat to humanity.” They quote the IPCC report by saying that we need to drastically reduce emissions before 2030 to meet the 1.5°C global warming target. To learn why every degree matters, read this post. But Google doesn’t only talk, it also takes its commitment seriously.
Google is a recognized leader in sustainability
Google (Alphabet) is the leading company in the Interactive Media, Services & Home Entertainment industry, according to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. They are also included in Corporate Disclosure Projects’s A list of corporations on addressing climate change, which only consists of 139 corporations globally (out of 7,000 disclosing companies). Finally, Corporate Knights added them in the Global 100 Index of most sustainable companies for 2019.
Google bought Nest, a home automation company that also makes smart thermostats. These monitor your presence at home at different time intervals and learn your habits. By reducing air conditioning and heating while you’re away from home, installing a Nest Thermostat promises a 10-15% reduction in energy consumption. Overall, Nest Thermostats are responsible for saving a total of 29TWh of energy, which is the equivalent of powering San Francisco’s electricity for 5 years. The Nest Thermostats are also saving more energy than Google uses for its databases.
To mitigate climate change, everyone needs to do their part. Governments and big corporations are undoubtedly fundamental, but also individual actions are necessary. To promote individuals to take action and reduce their energy waste, Google developed the Your Plan, Your Planet online interactive tool. Use it now by clicking here, it’s fun and will make you save money.
Google shifted to renewables
Did you know that Google has had a net-carbon impact of 0 for 12 consecutive years? Yes, you read that correctly: Google has not contributed to the net emission of a single gram of CO2 for 12 years. They are also sourcing 100% of their energy needs from renewables, making Google the most significant corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world (together with Facebook). This means that using Gmail, Google Drive and Youtube doesn’t emit carbon at Google’s servers. Oh, and their data centers are roughly 2x as energy-efficient as the average enterprise data centers.
They also help governments, individuals and utility companies shift to renewable energy with their Project Sunroof project, freely accessible online by clicking here. It now maps more than 100 million rooftops globally. It graphically shows which roofs are most suitable for solar panel installation, and it helps you estimate the potential energy production from installing solar.
Google provides data to address climate change
Google Street View cars are now equipped with air monitoring devices. This is particularly important as more than 90% of the world population breathes polluted air, and there are an estimated 7 million deaths per year due to air pollution (WHO).
Their Environmental Insights Explorer gives municipalities access to data on their emissions, renewable energy potential, and other climate variables.
TensorFlow grants researchers, companies, nonprofits and developers open access to machine learning software to better predict extreme weather events globally.
Google Maps now alerts people of wildfires and other dangerous events near you. The Public Alerts online tool is created specifically for this purpose.
Google Earth Engine shows Earth from the 1980s to today in a timelapse (click here). You can see cities grow, forests disappear, glaciers melt and lakes dry up.
While Google is doing a lot to mitigate climate change and we should be aware of it, we have to remember that Google is an exception. They’re based in California, have high margins and substantial cash reserves. In a world where carbon emissions keep rising every year, the majority of companies are still not doing enough, if anything, to mitigate climate change and global warming. I hope that Google is a source of inspiration for you and for other companies that want to be ambitious in setting climate change goals.
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Google Sustainability reports, https://sustainability.google/reports/
CDP A-List, https://www.cdp.net/en/companies/companies-scores
Corporate Knights Global 100, https://www.corporateknights.com/reports/2019-global-100/2019-global-100-results-15481153/