Google has become a member of The °Climate Group in order to help meet its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2008.

The °Climate Group will partner with Google to help it achieve carbon neutrality and support its plans for greater energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the offsetting of any remaining emissions - those that cannot be eliminated directly - by investing in credible carbon offset schemes.

Eric Schmidt, Google chairman and CEO, said: “By investing in new technologies and by working in partnership with others, we can make a meaningful contribution to the environment. This is just a start. We are actively looking for more opportunities to help tackle climate change.”

“Google has been working on energy efficiency since 2001 when we started to build our own servers,” said Urs Hoelzle, SVP Operations. “The °Climate Group will help deepen our understanding about climate change and the action we can take to minimise our carbon emissions. I am delighted we have joined the group and look forward to learning from them in the future.”

“Overall the Internet is a relatively clean technology: sending an email or downloading an album has less impact than posting a letter or buying a CD. And by maximising our energy efficiency, creating an additional 50 MWs of renewable energy generating capacity and investing in innovative green technology, Google will help build a cleaner energy future.”

Dr. Steve Howard, CEO of The °Climate Group, said: “The very real threats posed by global warming demand bold, imaginative and far-reaching action by every sector of the economy. Google’s commitment to invest in environmental innovation, combined with their ‘worldwide’ reach – will significantly help promote and accelerate international action on climate change.”

It has to be remembered that Google has probably the largest collection of datacentres on the planet. Its committment to carbon neutrality is a good thing but offsetting is recognised by Google as not the best way to achieve it.

Google's Environmental policy

Google has set out its strategy to help build a cleaner energy future. This plan will enable the company to go carbon neutral by 2008 and help support environmental innovation that could ultimately benefit everyone.

Key components of the strategy include:

* Maximising the efficiency of Google's data centres, which account for most of the energy it consumes. These use less than half the energy of standard industry data centres – cutting the company's power consumption by a factor of more than two;

* Increasing Google's use of renewable energy. The company has finished Phase 1 of a 1.6 megawatt (MW) collection of solar panels at its headquarters in Mountain View. Google is committed to creating an additional 50 MWs of renewable energy generating capacity by 2012 – enough to power 50,000 homes. The company will also apply a shadow price for carbon when buying power for its datacentres to encourage the use of cleaner energy;

* Offsetting emissions that cannot be eliminated directly. Google recognises that offsets are an imperfect solution but believes they help finance environmental improvements that would not otherwise happen. In addition Google would rather invest in projects which reduce global carbon emissions now, rather than waiting until the company can eliminate its own entirely in the future;

* Leveraging its assets to make an impact beyond the business. Google:

o Invests in innovative projects like plug-in hybrid cars (plug-ins) in order to make cleaner technologies commercially viable more quickly;

o Co-founded Climate Savers Computing, an industry initiative to increase computer efficiency and cut carbon emissions by 54 million tons a year by 2010;

o Enables users to inform and engage the world on energy and climate change matters by using products like Google Earth and Google Transit;

o Supports changes to public policy - including the setting of energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards, price signals for greenhouse gas emissions, and increased public spending on energy efficiency and renewable R&D.

With Google's famous energy and budget we can expect a stream of developments in the future. However, we do seem to be getting a plethora of organisations devoted to making IT greener: The Green Grid; The Green Technology Initiative; and now the Climate Savers Computing initiative. Surely we don't need so many?