Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Google Carbon Emissions: By the Numbers

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Google recently disclosed its annual carbon emissions for the first time. The total is roughly 1.5 million metric tons C02e for 2010 for three Scopes and what it calls “Biogenic emissions.” The number is put into perspective by Google by computing a “footprint per user” of roughly 1.5 kg. But how does Google compare to its peers on a carbon performance basis (revenue/CO2e)?

According to my own calculations using Carbon Disclosure Project data:

  • Average carbon performance for the IT sector: $37,700 per ton CO2e.
  • Google carbon performance: $19,547 per ton CO2e.

The IT sector calculation is for 2008 and only includes Scope 1 and Scope 2 given reliability problems with reporting of Scope 3. The Google calculation is for 2010 and includes all scopes and biogenics ($29,321 / 1.5).

Though the numbers are not directly comparable, they do suggest that Google is in the ballpark of its industry peers with respect to revenue generated per ton CO2e emitted.

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Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

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