Google's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Grew by 48% Since 2019 With Rise in AI Usage

Tech giant Google's pollution amounted to 14.3mn tonnes of carbon equivalent in 2023, a 48% increase from its 2019 baseline and a 13% rise since last year, Google said in its annual environmental report on Tuesday.

Chief sustainability officer, Google, Kate Brandt said the company remained committed to the 2030 'net zero' target but stressed the 'extremely ambitious' nature of the goal.

As per Google's 2024 environmental report, the silicon valley's greenhouse gas emissions surged 48% compared to 2019. This increase is attributed to the growing energy demands of data centers, driven by rapid advancements in and demand for artificial intelligence (AI). The impact of AI on electricity demand is well-documented, with AI data centers alone expected to add about 323 terawatt hours of electricity demand in the U.S. by 2030.

While Google remains committed to mitigating the environmental impact of AI, this spike in emissions poses a challenge to their goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2030¹. Microsoft also reported increased emissions due to AI demand.

Google's 2024 Environmental Report provides an overview of their environmental sustainability strategy, including targets and annual progress. The report covers data from their 2023 fiscal year (January 1 to December 31, 2023) and highlights achievements from the first half of 2024.

Google's 2024 Environmental Report's key findings:

Emissions Surge: Google's greenhouse gas emissions increased by nearly 50% compared to 2019. This rise is attributed to the growing energy demands of data centers, primarily driven by the surge in artificial intelligence (AI) usage.

Energy Efficiency Efforts: Despite the emissions increase, Google continues to invest in energy-efficient technologies and renewable energy sources. They're committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.

AI Impact: The report emphasizes the impact of AI on electricity demand. AI data centers are projected to add approximately 323 terawatt hours of electricity demand in the U.S. by 2030.

Sustainability Goals: Google remains dedicated to sustainability. They're working on innovative solutions, including carbon capture and renewable energy projects.

The report provides a snapshot of Google's ongoing efforts to balance technological advancements with environmental responsibility.

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