Google's Carbon-Emission Plans

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Google Inc. said it wants to do its part to control climate change and has decided to become carbon-neutral by the end of the year.

"This is an important step in our long-term pursuit of holistic environmental solutions," said Urs Hoelzle, senior vice president of operations at Google, in his blog. "Our plan to neutralize Google's carbon footprint includes three basic strategies: reduce energy consumption by maximizing efficiency; invest in and use renewable energy sources; and purchase carbon offsets for the emissions that we can't reduce directly."

Hoelzle said the company first calculated how much carbon it released into the atmosphere by taking into account emissions from purchased electricity, employee commuting, business travel, construction and server manufacturing. Then to offset those emissions, Google decided to invest in projects in other parts of the world that cut the amount of greenhouse gases released into the air.

"By investing in projects elsewhere in the world that cut the overall amount of greenhouse gases, we can help reduce climate impact now while we develop more sustainable strategies for the future," he said.

Hoelzle said Google decides what projects to invest in by looking into how much a project will help the environment, if its results can be monitored and verified and whether Google's investment will further the goal of the project.

"In other words, we want to make sure that our offset funding directly enables the project, and that the carbon savings of the project are real," he said.

Hoelzle said Google is also committed to finding and developing new environmentally friendly technologies and sources of energy.

According to a report from the nonprofit Climate Counts, Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. do a better job of protecting the environment than Google. Climate Counts, funded by Stonyfield Farm Inc., issues an annually updated scorecard reflecting the efforts that companies say they are making to address climate change. Climate Counts uses a 0-100 point scale and 22 criteria to rate the companies. In its latest ratings, Yahoo scored 36; Microsoft, 31; Google, 17; eBay, 2 and Amazon 0.

This story, "Google's Carbon-Emission Plans" was originally published by Computerworld.

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