Climate change continues to be one of the biggest, most challenging problems our planet faces, and we know that a sustained global effort is needed if we're going to have any hope of reversing its effects. In that spirit, today we're announcing that Google will become carbon neutral by the end of 2007. This is an important step in our long-term pursuit of holistic environmental solutions.
Our plan to neutralize Google's carbon footprint includes three basic strategies:
- reduce energy consumption by maximizing efficiency;
- invest in and use renewable energy sources; and
- purchase carbon offsets for the emissions that we can't reduce directly.
To calculate our carbon footprint, we took into account emissions from purchased electricity, employee commuting, business travel, construction, and server manufacturing. In a partnership with the Environmental Resources Trust (ERT), we have independently verified this assessment, and will do so every year.
In order to meet our short-term goal of carbon neutrality, we have decided to purchase some carbon offsets. To be clear, we see carbon offsets not as a permanent solution but rather as a temporary tool which allows us to take full responsibility for our impact right away. By investing in projects elsewhere in the world that cut the overall amount of greenhouse gases, we can help reduce climate impact now while we develop more sustainable strategies for the future. When considering an offset project, we carefully examine the project's environmental integrity, its ability to be monitored and verified, and the impact that our investment will have in furthering that project's goals. In other words, we want to make sure that our offset funding directly enables the project, and that the carbon savings of the project are real.
As you may have read, Google already has several other environmental programs and initiatives in place. Last week we announced the Climate Savers Computing initiative to greatly improve computing energy-efficiency standards. (Make sure your next computer purchase is a compliant PC!) Transportation is another major area of focus. Our employee shuttle system provides a commute for more than 1,500 Googlers daily around the San Francisco Bay area, and several hundred more have also taken advantage of our rebate when they bought a fuel-efficient vehicle.
We're equally committed to finding and developing new green technologies and sources of energy. We just completed our solar panel installation in Mountain View, the single-largest corporate solar installation in the U.S. to date. We've also joined the World Resources Institute's Green Power Market Development Group, so we can work with other companies to make more green power available to everyone. And of course Google.org is working on creative new initiatives, including plug-in hybrid cars. In addition, we've set ourselves the ambitious goal of creating 50 megawatts of new renewable generation capacity--enough to power 50,000 typical U.S. homes--by 2012.
Still, we're only one company, so aside from improving our own practices, we want to do more to raise awareness and commitment worldwide. We feel we can best do this through our products and services, which reach millions of people every day. For example, Google Transit makes it easier than ever to find and use public transportation around the globe. New custom tabs on iGoogle bring climate news, energy-related talks on video from our @Google series and other environment-related content to your homepage. Google Maps users have created mashups to show possible coastal flooding if the sea level changes, or to map climate data for cities worldwide. And we're urging lawmakers to create clear public policies on important issues like energy-efficiency standards, increased funding for public research and development of energy technologies, and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
To learn more, visit our new site on energy initiatives, which details much of this work to date.