On Thursday, Google announced its plan to make “the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history.” This announcement precedes a day of walkouts by tech employees, including those from Google, who are participating in the Global Climate Strike. The tech workers are demanding their employers take stronger actions to combat climate change.
Google’s purchase includes a 1,600-megawatt package of wind and solar agreements and 18 new energy deals, increasing the company’s agreements by 40 percent, according to Google. More than $2 billion will go to building out new infrastructure across the United States, Europe, and Chile as well. This purchase is “equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops,” Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post Thursday.
He continued, “In all, our renewable energy fleet now stands at 52 projects, driving more than $7 billion in new construction and thousands of related jobs.”
Google has a history of making big renewable energy purchases. Last year, it announced a milestone — it purchased more renewable energy than it consumed as a company. Today’s announcement expands its renewable reach even further. The company has also pledged to use recycled materials in all of its Made By Google products by 2022.
But many Google employees feel the company can still do more to reduce its environmental footprint. On Friday, hundreds of Google employees are staged to participate in the Global Climate Strike, led by students around the world in advance of the United Nation’s climate summit on September 23rd. A host of other tech employees from companies like Amazon and Microsoft have also pledged to participate.
“Tech is not ‘green,’” some Google employees wrote in a Medium post published earlier this week. “Google Cloud makes significant revenue licensing infrastructure, machine learning, and engineering talent to fossil fuel companies, promising to help them extract fuel reserves faster.”
The post included demands for Google: zero emissions by 2030, zero contracts for fossil fuel companies “to accelerate oil and gas extraction,” eliminate funding for climate-denying lobbyists and politicians, and promises not to harm climate refugees, or individuals who may be displaced as a result of climate change.
“Google workers stand with students and our peers across tech in support of the climate movement, in support of frontline communities, and in support of a livable future – we are committed to bold action across the tech industry, and beyond. It’s literally the only reasonable choice,” the employees wrote.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also made new climate promises on Thursday morning. Amazon’s plan to fight climate change, called “The Climate Pledge,” promises to reach the Paris climate agreement’s most ambitious emissions-cutting targets ten years early, setting the company up to be carbon-neutral by 2040. Bezos also laid out other goals, like for Amazon to use 80 percent renewable energy by 2024 and to run on renewables alone by 2030.