Google’s carbon offset plan reflects the world’s climate failure

Google's New York office in April 2020.

Google’s New York office in April 2020.
Photo: Arturo Homes (Getty Images)

Our technical overlord is talking about his climate game Again. On Monday, Google officials Claimed His company is now “Carbon Neutral”.

“Google’s lifelong net carbon footprint is now zero,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and CEO of Alphabet, its parent company, said in a blog post. “We are pleased to be the first major company to achieve this, today.”

Pichai said the firm is now moving forward on a new goal: to run the entire business on carbon-free energy sources, including offices, campuses and data centers. It all sounds great! Or at least, if it were not a huge vata of nonsense.

Google didn’t really return in time and stopped itself from producing Millions of tons Of greenhouse gas pollution. Instead, it compensates for those emissions, meaning it pays for environmental impact elsewhere for green projects. company Told the BBC Its centers are mostly focused on capturing methane gas where it exits pig farms and landfill sites.

It is good to have less methane in the atmosphere, but we should get there Moving away from animal farming and reducIng useless To eliminate methane emissions at the source. Services such as Google’s offset program lead to major polluting companies believing they can keep their businesses running as long as they clean up their excess emissions. But despite less pollution, those models are still fundamentally unstable.

To be fair, Google is attempting to move away from offsets with its next major undertaking to clean its power supply. Right now, the company says they are neutralizing the carbon footprint of their total energy use by purchasing renewable energy, neutralizing their own use of fossil-based power in places where it is not running on renewables is. By 2030, it aims to replace what is actually running on 100% carbon-free power sources.

This is an ambitious goal for a tech giant, certainly. But it still should not be able to operate its own route to reach it. We need to stop using fossil fuels, but not all renewable energy is created equal. Solar, wind and battery storage can all make the process Screw the Earth’s Biodiversity And depend on Abusive Labor Practices If we do not pay attention to the supply chain. Who is Google to make sure? It is not that we can vote on how it decarbonates – it is accountable to its shareholders, not users. This means that it is likely to prioritize its profits in decarbonization above all others.

As Google cleans its own power supply, it also says that it is going to help cities and corporations do so by selling their services. This means that Google will get the benefit of the clean energy transition. And frankly, some of the stuff the company would be selling seems absolutely terrifying. For example, it plans to stop machine learning-based tools, including Google Cloud, and an artificial intelligence technology called DeepMind, to stop airports, shopping malls, hospitals, data centers, and other commercial buildings and industrial facilities. The firm states that the need to use air conditioning in these buildings will be reduced. There Lots of clean and low tech Ways to do this already without AI – but you can bet that Google is not interested in many of them because they are cheap and offer few opportunities to maximize profits, including mining people’s personal Contains data.

Big Tech’s continued expansion in climate services is another reason why it needs to be more tightly regulated. Google is a company Price of $ 1 trillion And counting. All this money gives Google a ton of political power, because it can Spend millions To lobby for elected officials, which makes it very difficult to convince those policemen to rule them. Now, it can be on the road without effective oversight, if this behavior is effective, sustainable, using equal labor and rotting to respect our privacy.

To avoid all this, there are other options. In this way we can remove the hell out of Google and companies and disburse the funds into a more democratically controlled system. Or we can make even bigger changes Nationalize Tech Giants Therefore they are completely under government control. After all, it is undemocratic, poorly regulated corporations Largely responsible To bring us into the climate crisis at first. To get us out, maybe it’s time to try something new.