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Google contributes to almost half of internet’s carbon footprint

Google accounts for roughly 40 percent of the internet’s carbon footprint (Quartz) but in April 2018 the company announced that it exceeded its sustainability target, buying more renewable energy than its 2017 global operations consumed (Google Blog). 

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The company’s recent announcement does not mean its operations are powered by renewables necessarily, but that it bought renewable energy from wind and solar farms in quantities exceeding its 2017 consumption (Vox). 

Google says it has been carbon neutral since 2007 and that its data centers use 50 percent less energy than a typical data center on average.

Internet use releases C02 via the millions of servers housed in data centers across the world which require electricity to function. Most of this electricity is generated by fossil fuels (Huffington Post).

Ninety percent of the 75 million servers that host websites are powered by fossil fuels, according to Web Neutral Project co-founder Jack Amend (Forbes). The information communications and technology industry, including the internet and cloud services, represent 2 percent of global Co2 emissions according to carbon offset services company Climatecare.

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Questions we need your help to answer:

  • Why does Google offset its energy usage by purchasing renewables rather than powering all of its own operations with that energy?
  • What does Google’s definition of being carbon neutral mean exactly?
  • How eco-friendly is carbon offsetting?

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