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Google reduces carbon footprint

Retrieved from: Google.com’s Blog

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In June 2007, Google made a voluntary commitment to become carbon neutral. To honor this commitment, they calculated their global carbon footprint, purchased high-quality carbon offsets, and worked with a third party to certify their calculations and validate their offset portfolio. Through this process, Google have neutralized all of their 2007 emissions, as well as part of their 2008 emissions. They’ll continue to invest in offset projects until they reach carbon neutrality. [They've even gone so far as to get rid of their lawnmowers and have hired goats instead!]

Offsets are only a small part of what they are doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While offsets with strong additionality can achieve real emissions reductions in unregulated sectors at a relatively low cost, they view them as a short-term solution for Google, not as a substitute for other action. They provide a way for Google to take responsibility for their emissions now, while they continue to advocate the development of utility-scale renewable energy. Current standards for offsets require a significant amount of work to evaluate the quality of each offset project and ensure that projects go beyond “business as usual.” Stronger additionality standards — that are more stringent, clear, and objective — would also make it simpler for corporations like Google to use offsets as part of an overall strategy to neutralize emissions.

While Google does plan to continue with the purchase of offsets to neutralize the emissions they cannot eliminate through efficiency or renewable energy, their green team will focus on what they do best — engineering technology solutions. We’ve seen the success of transportation and IT efficiency programs like RechargeIT and the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, and the potential of renewable power and energy information initiatives such as RE<C and Google PowerMeter.

The best way to reduce their corporate footprint is to not use electricity in the first place. Google will continue to reduce emissions directly by building and designing some of the world’s most efficient data centers as well as using on-site renewable energy to power their facilities. Over the last five years, they have eliminated over half the emissions they would have produced in the absence of these critical measures. Offsets serve to neutralize the rest. In the future, they will continue to drive for improvements in energy efficiency and to find affordable sources of renewable energy.

Posted by Bill Weihl, Green Energy Czar


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