Source: Google Earth View 

The fight against global warming focuses on man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The IT industry in particular plays a key role, both as a polluter and through innovations that help reduce emissions. Google recognised its responsibility early on - and has been carbon neutral since 2017.

Internet and ICT sector have the greatest potential

The social, environmental and economic effects of climate change are undeniable. While governments around the world are struggling to achieve climate protection goals, the private sector is actively taking effective measures. One of the potentially most powerful players in this regard is the IT sector. At the same time, the IT sector faces a particularly major challenge in avoiding greenhouse gases due to its predicted growth. 

“ICT has the potential to maintain global CO2e emissions at 2015 levels, decoupling the past pattern where each 1% of growth in GDP equated to an 0.5% increase in CO2e emissions, and promote sustainable growth through 2030”, states the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) on smarter2030.gesi.org

Digital technologies could have a transformational impact on our ability to meet the 2030 Agenda. This, however, requires both the ICT sector and the key sectors (or "partner sectors") who deploy these technologies to put this Agenda more intentionally at the centre of who they are and what they do.

Climate protection is relevant for all companies

Companies in all sectors are faced with increased requirements regarding climate protection. Be it the reporting obligation on "non-financial information", which has been in force since 2017 for large companies as well as financial and insurance companies within the EU. Be it the demands of stakeholders and shareholders. It is not only about operational aspects of sustainability, but about the entire value chain. 

Google is the world's largest commercial buyer of renewable energy

IT services and products such as the manufacture and operation of equipment, data centers and the associated infrastructure consume enormous amounts of energy. Given the central role of the sector, Greenpeace began comparing the energy balances of companies in the IT sector ten years ago. A study by Greenpeace USA (2016) shows that Google is at the forefront among tech companies when it comes to the use of renewable energies. Google has set itself the goal of covering 100% of its energy needs with renewable energies as early as 2012. 

This goal was achieved in 2017. This means that each year Google either purchases the amount of energy consumed worldwide from renewable resources or offsets the emissions with certificates. Google is the world's largest purchaser of renewable energy and purchases more than 2.6 gigawatts of renewable energy annually (as of 2016). The company reports that by contracting to purchase renewable energy, it would drive the construction of projects worldwide and generate more than $3.5 billion in capital investment from renewable energy project developers.

Saving energy through Machine Learning

Google also relies on efficient data centres - for the benefit of its customers and the environment. More than a decade ago, the company began optimizing its data centers, for example, with the help of Machine LearningToday, they are among the most efficient in the world and their environmental footprint is constantly improving as demand and utilization increases. On average, a Google data centre consumes 50% less energy than a conventional data centre. This is a significant savings potential considering that data centres account for approximately 2% of the electricity consumed worldwide.

For more information about sustainability at Google – Google Environmental Report 2019 

Learn more about the sustainability benefits of ICT solutions for a SMARTer2030 

Latest content from Google on the subject of sustainability

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