Bringing COP26 to people everywhere
A blog from Ruth Porat, Alphabet and Google CFO.
This November at COP26, global leaders will meet in Glasgow to discuss how to jointly address the challenge of climate change. Recent research has found that more than 70% of the global population is concerned or fearful about climate change. So we’re focused on making this year’s conference accessible to everyone. In partnership with the COP26 Presidency, we’ll livestream the activities through YouTube and Google Arts and Culture, helping COP26 expand the reach of its digital channels. YouTube creators at the conference will create content to share with their global audiences, and we’ll publish video, imagery and artworks from “the green zone” — the center of COP26 activity — via a new page on Google Arts and Culture, inviting people everywhere to learn about the discussions and activities taking place.
“I’m delighted COP26 is partnering with Google to help bring the Green Zone of COP26 to the world in a few days’ time,” COP President-Designate Alok Sharma said. “With more than 200 captivating and diverse events on offer we want everyone to have the opportunity to learn more about climate action and help protect our planet.”
Our work at COP26 is part of our larger third decade of climate action strategy. We’re not only committed to be more sustainable in how Google operates as a business, but we’re also focused on building new technologies to make sure that partners, enterprise customers and the billions of people who use Google products every day can be more sustainable as well.
How we’re leading at Google
At Google, our goal is to achieve net zero emissions across all of our operations and value chain by 2030. We aim to reduce the majority of our emissions (versus our 2019 baseline) before 2030, and plan to invest in nature-based and technology-based carbon removal solutions to neutralize our remaining emissions.
We were the first major company to operate as carbon neutral in 2007, and have matched our energy use with 100 percent renewable energy for four years in a row. Last year we set a moonshot goal to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030 for all of our data centers and campuses. That means that by the end of the decade, we aim to deliver every search, every email, and every YouTube video without emitting carbon. We’re making strong progress — in 2020 we achieved 67% carbon-free energy on an hourly basis across our data centers, up from 61% in 2019. Five of our data centers, including those in Denmark and Finland, are at or near 90% carbon-free energy.
On our campuses we’re investing in sustainable energy innovations, like dragonscale solar and geothermal pilings, to get us closer to our goal to be carbon-free by 2030. We hope these new technologies will inspire similar projects from others that advance sustainability without compromising design and aesthetics.
How we’re enabling our partners
Urban areas are currently responsible for 70% of the world’s carbon emissions. Last year we pledged to help more than 500 cities reduce one gigaton of carbon emissions per year by 2030 via Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE). EIE is helping major cities, including Amsterdam, Birmingham UK and Copenhagen, map their emissions data, solar potential, and air quality for their remediation plans.
Technology can also help cities decarbonize in more direct ways. We recently shared an early research project that is deploying AI to help cities make their traffic lights more efficient, and we have a pilot program in Israel accomplishing this. So far, we have seen a 10-20% reduction in fuel consumption and delay time at intersections. We’re excited to expand this pilot to Rio de Janeiro and beyond.
Finally, we’re helping business customers like Whirlpool, Etsy, HSBC, Unilever and Salesforce develop solutions for the specific climate change challenges they face. Unilever is working with the power of Google Cloud and satellite imagery through Google Earth Engine to help avoid deforestation in their supply chain. At Cloud Next, we launched Carbon Footprint, a tool that helps large and small businesses understand their gross carbon emissions associated with the electricity of their Google Cloud Platform usage. This new information will help companies track progress toward their own climate targets.
How we’re aiming to empower everyone
In addition to businesses, increasingly individuals are focused on what more they can do to help the planet. That’s why we committed to help 1 billion people make more sustainable choices by 2022 through Google’s products and services. Recently, we shared several new ways people can use Google’s products to make sustainable choices — from choosing eco-friendly routes and searching for greener flights, hotels, and appliances to supporting clean energy from home with Nest and surfacing authoritative information on climate change from sources like the United Nations.
Google’s goal is to make the sustainable choice an easier choice — for governments, businesses, and individuals. We look forward to a carbon-free future and are excited to continue the conversation at COP26.