22 October, 2021
The way we find information has an important bearing on the decisions we make. How can we ensure that the information we consume helps us make decisions that are good for the planet and ourselves?
That’s the challenge that Google, the company that has become synonymous with the web search itself, has set out to address. It has announced a set of measures that includes showing driving routes on Google Maps that give the carbon emissions associated with the different options, and defaulting to the lowest impact one, and the same for its airline fares search, Google Flights (although there is no indication that different means of transport will be compared when checking flights, which is where the biggest opportunities lie). Meanwhile, it has also committed to make it easier to see hybrid and electric cars compared with fossil fuel cars, as well as to steer people searching for energy-intensive products towards more sustainable options. These measures are particularly powerful when we consider that these are areas that don’t contribute to Google’s own footprint – it really is using its leverage to help others reduce their impact.
However, it does raise a few questions regarding how Google will manage the position this puts it in of being the arbiter of what is more and less sustainable. This is particularly the case for those areas where the comparison between different choices isn’t as clear cut – of which there are many in the world of sustainability.
But with great power comes great responsibility and we’re excited to see Google put more sustainability-related information at its customers fingertips.
By Patrick Bapty