Google's greenhouse gas emissions rise to meet energy demands powering AI

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San Francisco, United States:

Google is emitting more greenhouse gases than before to power the data centers it needs to support artificial intelligence (AI), despite its goal of reaching net-zero emissions, the company said.

Google's climate-changing emissions have increased 48% over the past five years, according to its annual environmental report released Tuesday, running counter to the company's stated goal of becoming carbon neutral for the planet.

According to the report, total greenhouse gas emissions in 2023 will increase by 13% from the previous year, with the main contributing factors being increased energy consumption in data centers and the supply chain.

The increase comes despite Google increasing its use of clean energy from solar and wind power.

“While we are making progress, we face significant challenges that we are actively addressing,” Chief Sustainability Officer Cate Brandt and Executive Vice President Benedict Gomez said in the report.

“As AI is further integrated into products, reducing emissions may become more challenging as greater AI computing intensity increases energy demand and increased investment in technology infrastructure is expected.”

Google isn't the only company facing the challenge of powering its electricity-hungry AI data centers while limiting the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

In its recent sustainability report, Microsoft said its greenhouse gas emissions last year were 29% higher than in 2020 as it continues to invest in the infrastructure needed to develop new technologies.

Since OpenAI released ChatGPT in late 2022, Microsoft and Google have been at the forefront of the AI ​​race.

AI has been a hot topic with competitors seeing strong revenue growth quarter after quarter.

Meanwhile, Google and Microsoft have each committed to becoming carbon neutral by the end of the century.

Microsoft has an additional goal of becoming carbon negative, eliminating climate-damaging gases from the atmosphere, by 2050.

Another AI competitor, Amazon, with its AWS cloud computing division, has said it aims to be carbon neutral by 2040.

“A sustainable future requires systems-level change, strong government policies and new technologies,” Google said in the report.

“We are committed to working together and doing our part every step of the way.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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