Google has just made one of Big Tech’s most ambitious commitments to the environment: it will work to run its operations on clean renewable energy by 2030. It has also announced that it has purchased enough carbon offsets as of today. to eliminate essentially all the carbon dioxide for heating the planet, which the company has released since its founding in 1998.
Google has been carbon-neutral every year since 2007, which means it offsets the emissions it generates from burning fossil fuels by investing in renewable energy projects or other initiatives that extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. But relying on compensation doesn̵
Google’s new bet comes as California, where Google is headquartered, continues to burn and suffocate from smoke from flames that have become more devastating than climate change. “We have until 2030 to outline a sustainable cause for our planet or face the worst effects of climate change,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a video released today. “Today, we are already feeling these effects, from historic fires in the United States to devastating floods in many parts of the world.”
Once Google data centers are fully powered by renewable energy, “this will mean that every email you send via Gmail, every question you ask Google Search, every YouTube video you watch, and every route you follow which you use Google Maps is supplied by clean energy every hour of every day, “Pichai wrote in a blog post today. Google’s new commitment concerns the company’s electricity consumption; the company will continue to offset emissions for things like employee travel, Reuters reports.
Last September, Google said it considered it “the largest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history,” boosting the company’s wind and solar agreements by 40 percent. The company said it became the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in 2016.
Before Google can fully rely on renewable energy, it will have to overcome some technological obstacles. They will need more and better batteries to store and supply energy when the sun is not shining and the winds are stopping. He also says he is figuring out how to use AI to forecast the company’s electricity demand and make it more energy efficient. In the United States, the country’s aging energy network needs to be updated to better adapt to renewable energy. Companies like Google often limit themselves to relying on the available energy mix – which usually includes fossil fuels – wherever they operate. So Google may need to consider working in places with healthy renewable energy markets and favorable energy policies.
As it devises how to meet these challenges, Google says its commitment to stop relying on fossil fuels could pave the way for other companies to do the same. He believes that his efforts to protect the environment will create 12,000 jobs by 2025.
Google’s new commitment meets one of the demands of more than 2,000 of its workers last year, who called for zero carbon emissions by 2030 and joined a global climate strike with other technical workers in September. Employees at Amazon and Microsoft are making similar demands, asking their employers to stop emitting greenhouse gases by 2030, but Google is currently the only technology giant to commit to doing so. None of the companies have met the additional requirements of employees to terminate contracts with fossil fuel companies and stop funding politicians and lobbyists who deny climate science.
Microsoft announced in January that it will work to remove all the carbon emissions it has ever released by 2050, which is a more difficult milestone than Google has achieved today by offsetting all of its historic carbon emissions. But Google can now boast that its net carbon footprint for life is zero.