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Tech giants doubling down on clean energy commitments
Google has become the latest in a growing line of tech giants to make a major clean energy pledge when it announced in late September that it would run all of its offices and data centres on carbon-free energy by 2030.
At present, the company purchases renewable energy credits equal to its total global energy usage, but some of its datacentres still run on fossil fuels. According to Reuters, renewables made up 61% of Google’s global hourly electricity usage last year, though the figures varied widely between locations. Solar and onshore wind fulfilled 96% of the needs of a data centre in Oklahoma, while a Singapore facility relied on gas for a similar proportion of its power.
According to a blog post by CEO Sundar Pichai, Google is now ‘the first major company to make a commitment to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy in all our datacenters and campuses worldwide’. However, it will continue to offset carbon emissions unrelated to electricity use, such as from employee travel.
Last year, over 2,000 Google employees wrote a letter to the company’s chief financial officer demanding that executives commit to zero-carbon power within the next decade. They also demanded that the search engine end its contracts with fossil fuel companies and stop funding politicians and think tanks that oppose global climate action.
Google’s clean energy pledge follows a similarly ambitious announcement from Microsoft earlier this year. The Seattle-headquartered firm plans to use as-yet underdeveloped carbon capture technologies to remove all of the CO2 it has ever released into the atmosphere by 2050. It also promised to become ‘carbon negative’ in its operations by 2030.
In September, the social media giant Facebook also revealed a new goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2030 from its whole value chain — including ‘suppliers and other factors such as employee commuting and business travel.’ This will be achieved through the use of offset credits and carbon capture technologies.
Facebook’s announcement was met with scepticism from environment campaigners, who have claimed that the company still permits the free spread of climate disinformation across its social network.