"Sustainability has been one of Google's core values from our earliest days. Over the years we've worked hard to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations, build products with people and planet in mind, and drive change at scale through our supply chains," said CEO Sundar Pichai in a statement.
The company plans to more than double its global solar portfolio, with investments in solar farms in North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. It is also investing in a hybrid technology deal in Chile which will combine both solar and wind. Pichai plans on announcing the company's plans in Europe tomorrow during a visit to Finland.
Hundreds of Google employees have nonetheless criticized the tech giant for not taking the environment seriously enough, pointing out the carbon footprints of its data centers and the company's funding of lawmakers who vote against climate legislation. More than 1,600 Google employees signed a letter this week laying out a list of cross-tech climate goals for the company. "Tech is not 'green'. The carbon footprint of the tech industry's data centers alone is on par with aviation. While Google makes a commitment to sustainability, stating that its global business operations are carbon neutral (its emissions are offset with equivalent renewable energy investments or carbon offset purchases) and aspiring to long-term 24x7 carbon-free energy consumption (but with no set commitment date), this doesn't tell the whole story," said the group in the letter.
Google's announcement comes in advance of Friday's Global Climate Strike. Hundreds of employees of tech companies such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon are expected to participate in the protest, which will occur in at least 150 countries over the course of a week.