Report: AI Spurs 48% Rise in Google Emissions

Report: AI Spurs 48% Rise in Google Emissions
Image copyright: Neville Elder/Corbis/Contributor/Corbis News via Getty Images

The Facts

  • In its environmental report published Tuesday, Google revealed that its greenhouse emissions in 2023 were 48% higher than in 2019 because its data centers had been using more power to meet the artificial intelligence (AI) surge.

  • Google's emissions jumped 13% year over year in 2023, while its total data center electricity consumption grew 17% last year.

The Spin

Narrative A

The rise of AI and data centers threatens the environment with catastrophic effects. AI is driving water shortages, depleting scarce resources, and using vast amounts of electricity. Despite Big Tech's claim of efficiency, operations of companies like Google often prioritize profits over their severe socio-environmental consequences. The unchecked expansion of facilities like data centers even threatens to spark conflicts over essential resources.

Narrative B

Despite hindrances in achieving its 2030 goals, Google is working toward running its offices and data centers on 24/7 carbon-free energy, including solar and wind. Efforts include low-carbon building designs, energy efficiency, and electrification of facilities and fleets. Notably, the company's data centers are 1.8 times more energy efficient than most others. Google is also committed to sustainable commuting options and minimizing suppliers' emissions.

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