Thursday, May 7, 2009

Reducing our carbon footprint

In June 2007 Google made a voluntary commitment to become carbon neutral. To honor this commitment, we calculated our global carbon footprint, purchased high-quality carbon offsets, and worked with a third party to certify our calculations and validate our offset portfolio. Through this process, we've neutralized all of Google's 2007 emissions, as well as part of our 2008 emissions. We'll continue to invest in offset projects until we reach carbon neutrality.

Offsets are only a small part of what we are doing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. While offsets with strong additionality can achieve real emissions reductions in unregulated sectors at a relatively low cost, we view them as a short-term solution for Google, not as a substitute for other action. They provide a way for us to take responsibility for our emissions now, while we 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 we do plan to continue with the purchase of offsets to neutralize the emissions we cannot eliminate through efficiency or renewable energy, our green team will focus on what we 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 our corporate footprint is to not use electricity in the first place. Google will continue to reduce our 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 our facilities. Over the last five years, we have eliminated over half the emissions we would have produced in the absence of these critical measures. Offsets serve to neutralize the rest. In the future, we will continue to drive for improvements in energy efficiency and to find affordable sources of renewable energy.

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