Google says it has wiped out its entire carbon footprint by investing in “high-quality carbon offsets”.
It claimed to become carbon-neutral back in 2007 and says it has now additionally compensated for all of the carbon it has ever created.
TechCrunch points out that to do so is not actually very difficult; all it takes is loads of cash to spend.
Google simply purchases renewable energy elsewhere to offset the use of non-renewable power in places where that’s the only option available to them.
Chief executive Sundar Pichai has now announced that Google also pledges to run all of its data centres and offices on carbon-free energy by 2030.
“This will be our biggest sustainability moonshot yet,” said Pichai. “We’ll do things like pairing wind and solar power sources together and increasing our use of battery storage.”
Greenpeace comments that Google is setting “a new high-bar for the sector” with its ambitions.
“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 at Greenpeace USA.
Other environmentalist groups too, have welcomed yet another ambition from a top global company to eliminate the emissions that are so damaging the planet.
But Google’s claim to have offset all of its historical carbon debt needs scrutiny, says the BBC.
The company claims that its offsets so far have focused mainly on capturing natural gas where it’s escaping from pig farms and landfill sites. But it can be argued that governments should be ensuring this happens anyway.
Google also says it’s monitoring the debate about so-called nature-based solutions, which involve activities such as planting trees to capture CO2.
But the science on this is still contested.
Funding the development of local clean energy sources to power high-usage technology facilities isn’t new, and most major tech companies with a clean energy agenda aim to do this.
Other high-profile, giant technology companies have also committed to reducing or eliminating their carbon use.
In January, Microsoft revealed plans to become carbon negative by 2030.
In July, Apple announced its target of becoming carbon neutral across its entire business and manufacturing supply chain, also by 2030.
Amazon has set a 2040 target to go carbon neutral.