Facebook, Google Announce Plans To Become Carbon Neutral

“The science is clear: The world must act now if we’re going to avert the worst consequences of climate change,” said Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet Inc.

India   |   18 Sep 2020 5:08 AM GMT
Writer : Reethu Ravi | Editor : Prateek Gautam | Creatives : Rajath Arkasali Arkasali
Facebook, Google Announce Plans To Become Carbon Neutral

Image Credits: Wikimedia, India Today

Following the footsteps of Apple and Microsoft, tech giants Facebook and Google have announced their plans of becoming carbon neutral businesses by committing to put no excess carbon in the atmosphere.

Google, which committed to going carbon neutral first in 2007, announced that it has now compensated for all of the carbon it has ever created, since its foundation in 1998. The tech giant has also committed to being powered exclusively by renewable energy by 2030.

"The science is clear: The world must act now if we're going to avert the worst consequences of climate change," Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Alphabet said in a blog post.

"We are committed to doing our part. Sustainability has been a core value for us since Larry and Sergey founded Google two decades ago. We were the first major company to become carbon neutral in 2007. We were the first major company to match our energy use with 100 per cent renewable energy in 2017," Pichai added.

The company announced that it will become the first to commit to run entirely on carbon-free energy in all its data centres and campuses across the globe.

"This is far more challenging than the traditional approach of matching energy usage with renewable energy, but we're working to get this done by 2030," it said.

"We estimate that the commitments we're making today will directly generate more than 20,000 new jobs in clean energy and associated industries, in America and around the world, by 2025," Pichai added.

Pichai further said that Google has eliminated its entire carbon legacy - covering its operational emissions before it became carbon neutral in 2007 - through the purchase of "high-quality carbon offsets."

"This means that Google's lifetime net carbon footprint is now zero. We're pleased to be the first major company to get this done, today," Pichai said.

Stating that Google's pledge to be using only carbon-free energy by 2030 was its "biggest sustainability moonshot yet", Pichai added, "Google will invest in approaches that make it possible for us to source reliable carbon-free energy in all locations, at all times of day. We'll do things like pairing wind and solar power sources together, and increasing our use of battery storage. And we're working on ways to apply AI to optimize our electricity demand and forecasting."

"Importantly, we think our work can accelerate the availability of clean energy in communities worldwide, and help to solve challenges that have held back its ability to become an around-the-clock source of energy," Pichai further said.

Pichai added that Google is committing to help over 500 cities and local governments across the globe reduce a total of 1 gigaton of carbon emissions annually by 2030 - the equivalent of the annual carbon emissions of a country the size of Japan.

"Cities create 70 percent of the world's emissions. Our Google Environmental Insights Explorer helps more than 100 cities to track and reduce their building and transportation carbon emissions and maximize their renewable energy use, by informing them of their solar potential. Today, we're expanding this tool to 3,000 cities worldwide," Pichai added.

Google is also introducing a number of initiatives to help its partners and organisers reduce their carbon footprint.

"We're optimistic that by harnessing new technologies, investing in the right infrastructure and tools, and empowering partners, nonprofits and people, this can be the most decisive decade for climate action yet. We're proud to do our part, and to help move the world closer to a carbon-free future for all," Pichai said.

Meanwhile, in a separate announcement, Facebook said that the company will become 100 per cent supported by renewable energy this year.

"Facebook's global operations will achieve net zero carbon emissions and be 100% supported by renewable energy this year," Facebook said.

"Beyond our goal of reducing our operational greenhouse gas emissions by 75% this year, we will achieve net zero emissions for our operations. We are also setting an ambitious goal to reach net zero emissions for our value chain – including emissions from suppliers and other factors such as employee commuting and business travel – in 2030," it added.

"Over the next decade, Facebook will work to reduce carbon emissions from our operations and value chain, including by working with suppliers on their own goals, helping the development of new carbon removal technologies and making our facilities as efficient as possible," the social media major further said.

Facebook also announced a new Climate Science Information Center "to connect people with science-based information, and an ambitious new net zero emissions target for our company's value chain."

"The Center will feature facts, figures and data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and their global network of climate science partners, including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), The Met Office and others. We will also include posts from relevant sources to highlight climate science news," it said.

The announcements were welcomed by climate activists.

"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," Elizabeth Jardim, senior corporate campaigner at Greenpeace USA, was quoted as saying by BBC.

Earlier in January, Microsoft had announced a plan to become carbon negative by 2030 and a goal of erasing all of its historical emissions by 2050.

Similarly, in July, tech giant Apple had announced a commitment to be 100 per cent carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030. It plans to cut emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 while developing innovative carbon removal solutions for the remaining 25 per cent of its footprint.

"Businesses have a profound opportunity to help build a more sustainable future, one born of our common concern for the planet we share," Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said in a statement.

"Climate action can be the foundation for a new era of innovative potential, job creation, and durable economic growth. With our commitment to carbon neutrality, we hope to be a ripple in the pond that creates a much larger change," he added.

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