Google Stops Its Mass Purchase Of Carbon Credits

Google Stops Its Mass Purchase Of Carbon Credits - Carbon Herald
Source: Mizter_X94 from Pixabay

Tech titan Google is overhauling its approach to climate neutrality. Instead of heavily relying on cheap carbon credits, the company is setting a new target: net-zero emissions by 2030. 

This will be achieved through a two-pronged attack: slashing their own emissions and investing in projects that actively remove carbon dioxide from the air.

For years, Google balanced their emissions with carbon offsets – essentially certificates representing prevented emissions from things like forest protection. 

However, their latest environmental report shows a shift away from this strategy, the reasoning being a more mature carbon removal market and the need for more aggressive emission reduction efforts.

This change comes as Google leans more heavily on powerful artificial intelligence, which has significantly boosted their overall emissions. 

Their carbon footprint ballooned by 48% between 2019 and 2023, with their energy use doubling in that timeframe.

The effectiveness of carbon offsets themselves has also been questioned. Critics argue that many offset projects, like those protecting forests, overestimate their impact. 

Relevant: Google, Meta, Microsoft, And Salesforce Establish World’s Largest Advance Market Commitment For Nature-Based Projects

They also point out that renewable energy projects funded by offsets might have been built anyway. Google’s purchase of nearly 3 million tons of offsets in 2022 exemplifies this concern.

Going forward, Google will prioritize directly cutting emissions and investing in proven carbon removal technologies. 

These methods, although more expensive, demonstrably take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. 

Google has already committed $200 million to a dedicated carbon removal market fund and secured carbon removal credits from various companies.

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This shift reflects a broader movement. Companies like EasyJet and Interface Inc. have also ditched offset-based neutrality claims and received approval for their stricter emission reduction goals from a science-based initiative.

While some experts doubt the viability of complete offsetting, they recognize the potential of carbon removal in achieving ambitious climate targets. 

However, they stress that reducing emissions must remain the top priority. Google’s renewed focus on absolute emission cuts signals a positive step in that direction.

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