(Reuters) – Alphabet’s Google wants its data centers and offices to run entirely on carbon-free electricity by 2030, the CEO told Reuters, building on its earlier goal of balancing energy consumption with 100% renewable energy.
The “stretch target,” as CEO Sundar Pichai described it, will force Google to go beyond the tech industry norm of offsetting carbon emissions from power consumption, and will require technological and political breakthroughs to achieve this.
“The problem is so big that many of us need to lead the way and show solutions,” said Pichai. “We’re a little player, but we can set an example.”
Forest fires, which burn a record area in the western United States this month, have raised public awareness of climate change, Pichai said, and Google is keen to draw further attention through its new target and product features.
Wind, solar, and other renewable sources made up 61
However, Google, which uses slightly more electricity each year than Delaware residents and businesses worldwide, has become optimistic that it can fill the gap with batteries to store solar energy overnight, emerging sources like geothermal storage, and better management of electricity demand.
“We see an enormous logistical challenge in planning around the clock in our data centers and locations all over the world. That’s why we worked hard last year to model the way there, ”said Pichai. “And we are confident that we can get there by 2030.”
He declined to share the likely cost of achieving the goal.
Big Google competitors like Microsoft and Amazon are aiming to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they are emitting in the decades to come. However, none of them have publicly set a goal to stop sourcing carbon-based energy.
However, companies share a common goal of getting companies and governments to curb climate pollution before 2030, when scientists say global warming could become catastrophic if not controlled.
Jennifer Layke, global director of the World Resources Institute research group, which was funded by Google, said the company has inspired others in the US and Europe for the past decade, but its efforts now need action in major polluting regions like China, India and drive India forward. Indonesia and Vietnam.
“If we cannot deviate from carbon, we will suffer from the firestorms and droughts,” she said.
Google has been carbon neutral since 2007, meaning it has planted trees, bought carbon credits, and funded large amounts of wind power in places where it is plentiful to offset the use of coal and natural gas in other regions. It was also announced on Monday that the estimated emissions of 1 million tonnes between 2006 and 1998 have now been offset.
The company’s new goals include getting 5 gigawatts of renewable energy close to some suppliers, funding tree planting beyond offset needs, and sharing data or partnering with 500 governments around the world to try to reduce 1 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions annually by 2030.
Google said it will continue to offset carbon emissions that are not related to electricity consumption, such as employee travel.
The carbon-free electricity goal fulfills a request from 2,000 Google employees who filed a request with the company last November to end sales of data storage and other cloud computing tools to oil companies and fund think tanks or politicians who support the existence of the Deny climate change.
On Monday, several employees who signed the petition said Google could undermine its new goals if it continues to support customers and politicians who are exacerbating global warming.
“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but the urgency of the situation calls for more,” the staff said in a statement.
Pichai said Google will continue to support “everyone” with its cloud services and help oil and gas companies switch to other sources.
(Reporting from Paresh Dave; additional reporting from Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Adaptation by Greg Mitchell, Kim Coghill and Lisa Shumaker)