Google emits around 1.5m tonnes of CO2 per year, about the same as the UN

 

Google's carbon footprint is larger than those of 61 states and islands, it has been revealed after the company released its environmental figures for the first time yesterday.

The internet giant said it emits around 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year, approximately the same amount as the United Nations. But it says that its data centres produce 50 per cent less than the industry average and Senior Vice President, Technical Infrastructure Urs Hoelzle wrote in a blog post that the company is carbon neutral.

He wrote: "We've worked hard to reduce the amount of energy our services use. In fact, to provide you with Google products for a month - not just search, but Google+, Gmail, YouTube and everything else we have to offer - our servers use less energy per user than a light left on for three hours."

The company added that some of its 'cloud-based' services can be up to 80 times less polluting than traditional alternatives, which require servers to run.

"And, because we've been a carbon-neutral company since 2007, even that small amount of energy is offset completely, so the carbon footprint of your life on Google is zero," wrote Hoelzle.

UN figures from 2007, the latest available, show that Eritrea, Greenland and Liechenstein were among the countries emitting less CO2 than the US-based internet firm. Others included Togo, Tonga and Mali, as well as Chad and the both the Faroe and Falkland Islands.

Gary Cook, of Greenpeace International, which scrutinises the IT sector's energy use, said: "We've seen lots of leadership from Google on sustainability but not in terms of transparency. It's good to see them finally put their footprint data on the table, which hopefully should start a more robust debate on the energy use of online services. We need to see others doing the same."

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