Many of the world’s tech companies are working to offset their carbon emissions and transition to clean energy. Although it’s the trendy thing to do right now, Google has actually been doing it since 2007. It declared carbon neutrality in that year and has since amplified its efforts to be a greener company.
Now, Google says that it has become the first major company to offset the entire carbon footprint created since its founding. The Big Tech firm accomplished this by buying “high-quality carbon offsets.”
While this is a major achievement, not creating the emissions in the first place is even better. That’s why Google is committing to a new goal of using entirely renewable energy by 2030. This means that all of its operations will be powered by things like solar, wind, and water power.
Typically, when a company says that it is using 100 percent renewable energy, it actually isn’t exclusively using carbon-frees sources. That’s especially true when it has many different geographical locations.
Companies like this use renewable energy whenever they can—for instance, to power a main campus. However, smaller facilities might not be located in the vicinity of any clean energy sources. When this happens, the firm may purchase renewable power elsewhere to offset the use of non-renewable power. Another approach is to buy carbon offsets. These typically support projects that promote clean energy initiatives or environmental restoration.
Once again, this isn’t a perfect solution. Buying carbon offsets doesn’t actually fix the problem. It’s better than nothing, but transitioning to clean energy usage in the first place is the only real solution.
Google’s new undertaking will involve doing this in a massive way. The tech giant has committed to running every facet of its business on carbon-free energy sources at every location it operates. This will include offices, campuses, data centers, and more. Products like Gmail, Search, YouTube, and Maps will all soon be running exclusively on green energy.
What it Means
To meet its goal Google has a lot of work to do. The company will need to develop new clean energy sources in many of its locations as well as continue its existing projects.
Ultimately, Google plans to bring 5 GW of new carbon-free power sources online by 2030. Funding these types of projects isn’t new. Many tech companies do so to improve their carbon footprint and public image. However, by putting a date on it, Google has given itself a hard deadline for an unprecedented undertaking.
Given its size and the worldwide scope of the project, Google has a chance to once again set an example for the tech industry. Its efforts in the 2000s set a high bar for what firms should do in terms of clean energy. The goals it has laid out for the coming decade will serve a similar purpose.
It will be interesting to see the innovations Google comes up with to meet its 2030 deadline.