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Google’s cloud users will learn their Gmail carbon footprint

Google’s cloud-computing division is preparing to reveal the carbon footprint for its Workspace apps, including Gmail and Docs, in early 2023

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen at its exhibition space, at the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France June 15, 2022.
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen at its exhibition space, at the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France June 15, 2022. (REUTERS)

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Google’s cloud-computing division is preparing to reveal the carbon footprint for its Workspace apps, including Gmail and Docs, as it builds out its suite of tools to help customers assess their impact on the environment.

The move by Alphabet Inc.-owned Google Cloud expands measures unveiled last year to help clients measure and reduce the gross carbon emissions of using Google Cloud services. Google plans to reveal the Workspace carbon data in early 2023, Justin Keeble, managing director of global sustainability at Google Cloud, said in a blog post on Monday.

Also read: How do you measure your carbon footprint?

Mountain View, California-based Google aims to be completely decarbonized by 2030. It currently uses renewable energy sources for its operations globally and had fully offset all its emissions by 2007. Last year, it touted its efforts to help search and maps users reduce their carbon emissions by suggesting certain flights or driving routes that cause less pollution, a Bloomberg report adds.

However cloud computing, a key area of operations for Google, is known as a particularly energy-heavy domain. Google runs data centers all over the world and has for years purchased renewable energy offsets to keep pace with usage by its server farms. It claims that its cloud, which delivers internet-based computing and storage to other companies, is the world’s cleanest.

The company also announced it will now provide scope 1 and 3 emissions associated with a customer’s use of Google Cloud. This refers respectively to emissions from sources it controls directly, and indirect emissions up and down its supply chain.

Can spam, unwanted or unread emails actually contribute to carbon emissions and leave a carbon footprint? According to The Good Planet – a non-profit organization that hosts a free online platform that provides educational information about the scientific background behind climate change and how our everyday lives effect the Earth – as of 2019, 293.6 billion emails are sent every day, which is roughly 107 billion spam emails in one day or 24 hours. These numbers are only expected to increase in years to come.

How does all this add up? The sending and filtering of such emails alone account for billions of units of electricity every year. The average American, for instance, has around 500 unread emails, a post on The Good Planet website explains. If these 500 unread emails were deleted, that would delete 175 grams of carbon dioxide if each email contributes 0.3 grams of CO2.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

Also read: How to cut the carbon footprint of your house, fashionably

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