Following scrutiny in 2009, Google released information about its carbon footprint for the first time and it is on par with the United Nations’.
Google says that it emits 1.5m tonnes of carbon annually but claims that its data centres consume 50% less energy than the industry average. The emissions are slightly higher than the country of Laos in south-east Asia and equivalent to the UN’s operational footprint.
The company said that many of its “cloud-based” services for businesses, such as its popular Gmail system, can be up to 80 times less polluting than traditional alternatives, which require companies to operate their own, potentially more inefficient servers.
Google has made strides in reducing the energy use of its products and increasing the proportion of electricity it purchases from renewable sources. But the company said in a conference call that its total carbon footprint has continued to climb, reflecting a growing number of users and society’s increasing reliance on online services. Google declined to reveal how much its energy use had risen since the previous year, but said that the figures would be released in the future via the Carbon Disclosure Project. Guardian