Karen Massin, Google shares her vision about sustainability.
What does sustainability mean to the company?
At our Sustainability Conference in Brussels a few weeks ago, our CEO Sundar Pichai said: « Fighting climate change is humanity’s next big moonshot ». At Google, we have a unique opportunity to help lead the transition to a more sustainable future by making information accessible and by driving innovation forward. Grounded in our mission, we are empowering individuals, organizations and governments with quality information through our products and platforms — like Search, Maps, Data Commons, and Google Cloud — that billions of people engage with every day to help make decisions that will drive positive action for our planet. With our deep legacy in research and breakthroughs we’re making in AI, we can give people new ways of accessing information and accelerate innovation to tackle climate change.
Empowering individuals to take action. People are turning to Google for answers on how to live more sustainably, with Search interest in terms like electric vehicles, solar energy and thrift stores reaching new highs globally over the past year. We are empowering individuals with the context they are seeking to help make more sustainable choices.
Working together with our partners and customers. We’re building tools to enable others to become more resilient in the face of climate change. We’re providing partners with information to reduce their emissions, and advance transformative technology for climate action.
Operating our business sustainably. We’re building on our legacy of leadership in climate and clean energy by setting ambitious goals to reduce our own emissions and accelerate the global transition to a net-zero future. We’re pursuing net-zero emissions across our operations and value chain by 2030, supported by an ambitious clean energy goal to operate our data centers and office campuses on 24/7 carbon-free energy.
What sustainable efforts are you most proud of?
We’re seizing the opportunity to empower individuals to make more sustainable decisions. People are more interested in how to live more sustainably than ever. In 2022, Google searches for “solar energy,” “electric bicycles,” and “electric cars” reached all-time highs (1).
These kinds of changes to our lifestyles and behavior matter: the IEA estimates that around 55% of the cumulative emissions reductions needed to achieve a net-zero global energy system by 2050 are linked to consumer choices. Through our products and platforms, Google is focused on empowering individuals with better information when they’re looking to make decisions that can drive positive action for people and our planet.
Let me mention some of our latest initiatives:
Travel is often the biggest single contributor to an individual’s carbon footprint. Fuel-efficient routing in Maps gives travelers the option to choose the most fuel-efficient route if it’s not already the fastest one — since launching eco-friendly routing in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Egypt, we estimate that the feature has helped prevent over 2.4M metric tons of CO2e – that’s equivalent to removing 500,000 fuel-based cars from the road for a year. Through Search, we’re helping drivers understand how much they can save by going electric, and through Maps, we can help EV drivers find the best charging station nearby, based on factors like current traffic, charge level and expected energy consumption.
Global searches for “e-bikes” have doubled over the past three years (2). We’ve added over 90,000 kilometers (56,000 miles) of bike lanes and bikeable roads to Maps in 2022, bringing more options to people looking for sustainable transportation alternatives. And, consumers can now see carbon emissions estimates for nearly every flight, right next to price and duration.
To accelerate a more circular economy, we are also focused on reducing waste, and helping others do the same. Waste and recycling is one of the most common decisions consumers make, where better information can help — global searches for recycling are the highest of any sustainability action (3). Last year, we launched a new feature that makes it easier than ever for people to find nearby recycling points on Search and Maps by pinpointing local businesses with the in-store and drop-off recycling they need. And, people can also see which products are pre-owned on Search, making it easier to pinpoint the more sustainable choice, which often is also the more affordable choice.
(1) Based on Google Trends data as of December 2022, when comparing global Google Search interest since 2004.
(2) Based on Google Trends data as of April 2023, when comparing global Google Search interest from April 2020–April 2023 to that of April 2017– April 2020.
(3) Based on Google Trends data as of April 2023, when comparing global Google Search interest since 2004.
What role does advertising play in promoting your sustainable practices?
Advertising can be a strong force for good. It is a way for responsible companies to nudge their consumers towards more sustainable practices but it can also be a great vehicle for NGOs, think tanks and the likes to raise awareness about the work they do to ensure a more sustainable future. It is because of this belief that it is always a pleasure for Google to sponsor the CARE awards. The great work of ACT responsible for showcasing and rewarding ads that promote care for people and the environment is amazing and we are proud to be part of it.
My experience as a judge of the CARE awards was not only great fun but was a brilliant opportunity for me to see once again the positive power that creative marketing can have. And there were so many amazing campaigns this year: campaigns that are a real contribution to make societal change a reality, that have the potential to shape society for the better of us all.
More information about how Google is working to scale sustainability across our marketing can be found in our recent blogpost A playbook for change.
Why do you support the Care Awards?
Our support for the Care Awards is an extension of our broader efforts to use technology to address global challenges and create a more sustainable and equitable world. We believe that by working together, we can make a real difference in the lives of people around the globe.