Background - 27 April, 2010

Summary 47/100

Google leads the field again for its advocacy efforts, particularly the leadership role it took in California to defeat Proposition 23, as well as efforts to ensure consumer access to energy data and create a new mechanism to drive clean tech investments. The company’s main solution offering to date, Powermeter, continues to expand, and Google has made several important investments in driving renewable energy supply, but its standing as a solutions provider and policy advocate continue to be undermined by Google’s lack of transparency on its energy and carbon footprint. Google’s energy demands continue to grow despite claims of being “Carbon Neutral.” If Google is serious about climate leadership, it should open source its emissions footprint, confess to the world that it has a carbon problem, and put its mitigation strategies on the table so others in the sector can learn from and build on them.


Climate Solutions


Current Savings Calculations


Google’s PowerMeter, a web application that empowers consumers by providing home energy management, continues to evolve, but Google needs to provide data or examples of how the solution is helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Public Metrics


Google’s calculation of societal GHG savings from plug-in hybrids under the RechargeIT program remains strong, but Google can add to this in the future by providing measurements of potential savings from Google’s self driving car.



Best in class for investment in potentially transformative offshore wind transmission infrastructure and other large scale renewable energy technologies, such as geothermal.

Future Savings Goal


No future saving goal for solutions.


Energy Impact


Reduction Target


Google fails to disclose any information on its energy use or GHG emissions and says that, given the company’s expected business growth, it doesn’t want to set a GHG emission reduction target. Rather, it claims to be carbon neutral (CDP, 2010 submission, 9.3). To score higher Google needs to be transparent about the size and growth rate of its carbon problem, and follow in the footsteps of other companies in setting an absolute reduction target.



While Google is working on the energy efficiency of its data centers, and has entered the energy business with the creation of a subsidiary called Google Energy in order to buy "the highest quality, most affordable renewable energy (...).", Google’s complete lack of transparency means that neither their claim of being “carbon neutral” nor the impact of their mitigation efforts can be assessed or considered leadership.

Infrastructure Siting


Google chooses renewable energy “where it makes sense”[1] and applies a shadow price for carbon when buying power for their data centers. However, as one of its most recent data centers was built in Lenoir, North Carolina (55% coal, 34% nuclear) in 2009, Google needs to publicly commit to phasing out dirty fuels on a set time frame in order to remain in line with its 2030 Clean Energy Roadmap.


Political Advocacy




Google set the bar for political speech with a public event in August at which it defended California’s global warming legislation against Proposition 23. The company’s stand-out approach and strong position on a policy priority earned it the highest score for speech, but a return to public advocacy engagement by CEO Eric Schmidt in delivering a message of transformative change is now long overdue.

Political Policy


Google signed a letter of support for the European Union to adopt a greenhouse gas reduction target of 30% by 2020, a policy priority. Along with Sony Europe, Google sets the bar for Policy Advocacy with this letter.

Repetition Bonus


Google receives the biggest repetition bonus for multiple occurrences of political speech and advocacy, including a letter to President Obama requesting better consumer access to energy information, a financial contribution to the ‘No on 23’ Campaign, support for the Clean Energy Deployment Agency, and comments to the California Public Utilities Commission on smart grid rule-making.

Negative Lobby Penalty


No negative lobby scored.

Google's scores to date

Leaderboard Score
Version 1 -
Version 2 32
Version 3 33
Version 4 47