Sustainability is an existential necessity for humanity as people around the world try to mitigate the impact of climate change.
At the inaugural Google Cloud Sustainability Summit on June 28, Google executives, partners and customers outlined efforts to reduce energy consumption and the environmental impact of IT and businesses.
“We all feel the urgency to tackle climate change, but so often determining the most impactful steps keeps people and organizations from taking action,” said Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian during his opening keynote at the summit.
During his meetings with organizations around the world, Kurian said it is clear that sustainability is a top priority. Consumers, employees, investors and policymakers are demanding that organizations prioritize sustainability and be transparent about the impact they have on the environment, he said.
Sustainability could also potentially be a growth engine for businesses, with cloud at the heart of that growth, Kurian said.
“We are entering a new era of business transformation driven by sustainability,” he said. “Companies that embrace sustainability as a core value of their business are likely to be the ones to succeed.”
Google Cloud Announces New Sustainability Efforts
As part of the Sustainability Summit, Google made a series of cloud announcements to help organizations reduce their environmental impact.
During his keynote address, Kurian announced the new Google Cloud Ready Sustainability designation to help organizations find partner solutions to address climate-related challenges.
Kurian was followed by Kate Brandt, chief sustainability officer at Google, who announced that Google’s goal is to achieve net-zero emissions for all of its operations by 2030.
“We hope that every email you send, every question you ask Google Search, and every virtual machine you start up across all our platforms will be delivered with zero-carbon energy,” says Brandt.
Google has also committed that by 2023, users of Google Workspace, including Gmail, will be able to tracking and reporting gross emissions associated with the use of those products.
Google Cloud users can now also better manage their climate impact in the Google Cloud Carbon Sense suiteBrandt said. The suite now has a low-carbon mode that allows administrators to easily set policies that automatically limit a company’s cloud resources to the cloud region with the lowest carbon emissions in the Google Cloud infrastructure, she said.
Google Earth Engine Supports Sustainability and Spatial Finance Efforts
The impact of climate change can be seen in many different ways, including satellite images of the planet.
To that end, Brandt announced that the Google Earth Engine is now generally available on Google Cloud. The Earth Engine provides satellite images and geospatial datasets that organizations can use to analyze the impact of climate change.
“You can apply Google Earth Engine to your toughest climate questions using one of the world’s largest planetary data sets,” Brandt said.
One way satellite imagery can aid sustainability efforts is with an approach known as: spatial financewhich was described by Jamie Herring, CEO of Climate Engine, a Google Cloud partner focused on using satellite data to build economic resilience against planetary change.
“The climate crisis can only be solved if we pretend that the economy exists on the planet we live on,” Herring said.
Climate Engine, Google and clients such as Canadian banking firm BMO are all using spatial finance to understand the changes in the Earth and connect them to the economy, Herring said.
“When we talk about spatial financing, we look at Earth observations and we understand how the planet is changing and we try to connect those changes to the economy,” he said.
About the authorSean Michael Kerner is an IT consultant, technology enthusiast and tinkerer. He advises industry and media organizations on technology issues.