Google emitted 1.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012, a 9 percent decrease from the previous year, according to the search giant’s latest carbon footprint data.
The company purchased carbon offsets to reduce its 2012 footprint to zero. Google says it’s been carbon neutral for six years.
Google emits about 8 grams of carbon per day to serve an “active” user — someone who does 25 searches and watches 60 minutes of YouTube a day, has a Gmail account and uses Google’s other services.
For the fourth year in a row, the company is emitting less carbon per million dollars of revenue. Google says this means that it’s getting more done with each gram of carbon it emits.
The company attributes the decline in its overall emissions to its green power purchases, which it now deducts its in carbon footprint calculations per new reporting guidance from the Carbon Disclosure Project.
Google says to date it’s signed power purchase agreement for more than 330 MW of wind power in the US and Europe — this includes a $200 million equity investment in a 161 MW wind facility located in Oldham County, Texas — and it is working on buying even more clean energy for its operations.
Earlier this year Google committed an additional $600 million investment in its Lenoir, NC data center site, and said its local electricity provider, Duke Energy, has pledged to develop a new program for large companies like Google that want to buy renewable power for their operations.
Additionally, Google’s data centers use only half the energy of most other data centers, the company says. This not only reduces Google’s environmental impact, it has also saved the company more than $1 billion to date.
The company came under fire last month for holding a fundraiser for climate-denying senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Seventeen researchers, who all visited the company as Google Climate Science Communication Fellows in 2011, signed an Aug. 1 open letter describing Google’s actions as “deeply troubling.”
In a separate essay published on the New York Times website, three of the letter writers said that the company’s actions threaten its carefully groomed reputation. They also said that by blocking progressive climate policies, Sen. Inhofe and his colleagues keep the price of clean energy technologies high, limiting Google’s return on investment.