Google is making its search engine more useful for the eco-friendly crowd. The internet giant is updating its search to provide information on more sustainable shopping and travel options. Look for energy-intensive appliances like hot water heaters or dishwashers, for instance, and you'll see suggestions for more sustainable (and frequently more cost-effective) products. A future update will also make it easier to cross-shop electric and hybrid cars, complete with identifying tags and a view of nearby compatible charging stations.
Google Flights, meanwhile, will show the estimated CO2 emissions for "nearly every" flight, right down to the seat level. An economy seat on a new aircraft could be much kinder than a first class berth aboard an older airliner.
Even stocks will see an improvement. Google Finance is launching sustainability scores for stock portfolios, giving you an overall sense of how Earth-conscious your investment companies are. Google will source info from the Climate Disclosure Project.
Search will also improve if you're simply trying to investigate climate change. Google is promising a dedicated results page with in-depth data, including related info from the UN and other authorities. Ideally, the data panels will help you better understand climate change and the fight to minimize it.
You'll have to wait a while to see all of Google's planned changes. The shopping and travel changes will arrive this week, but you'll have to wait until later in October for climate change info panels. The stock portfolio scores are merely "coming soon," and you'll have to wait until early 2022 to see EV and hybrid tags.
This is far from guaranteed to have a tangible effect on the environment. Just because you've seen an environmentally-savvy search link doesn't mean you'll click on it or even consider it. Even if that's the case, it signals a shift in attitude at Google. Tthe tech firm no longer considers reductions in behind-the-scenes resources to be enough — it's educating web users directly.