Google’s New Tool to Fight Climate Change

from The Atlantic

In the next decade or so, more than 6,000 cities, states, and provinces around the world will try to do something that has eluded humanity for 25 years: reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, which warm the atmosphere and cause climate change.

The city-level leaders overseeing this task won’t have the same tools available to their national peers. Most of them won’t have an Environmental Protection Agency (or its equivalent), a meteorological bureau, a team of military engineers, or NASA. So where will they start? Never mind how to reduce their city’s greenhouse-gas emissions; how will they know what’s spewing carbon dioxide in the first place?

Maybe Google will do it for them. Or, at least, do it with them.

Google has started estimating greenhouse-gas emissions for individual cities, part of what it recently described as an ambitious new plan to deploy its hoard of geographic information on the side of climate-concerned local leaders.

“The first step toward taking climate action is creating an emissions inventory,” says Saleem Van Groenou, a program manager at Google Earth. “Understanding your current situation at the city scale, and understanding what you can do to it—that’s an information problem, and that’s a good place for Google to sit.”

More here.

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21 Responses to Google’s New Tool to Fight Climate Change

  1. Hannah Roselli September 27, 2018 at 4:34 pm #

    I chose to read this article, because the climate and different gases in the atmosphere are always an important topic to be learning more about. This article tells us how Google is starting to estimate green-house gas emissions for individual cities! There are multiple steps Google will have to do to complete this successfully. Some of the steps include creating an emissions inventory and knowing the current city’s scale, and understanding how you can work with it and what you can do with it. This technology is still new, so Google has only done estimates for five cities. Google is coming out with many new technologies to keep cities aware of how much they are polluting/affecting the environment. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have a positive effect on the overall climate and environment, and Google supplying cities with how much they are emitting will help overall, it is also an amazing way to raise awareness for pollution, people tend to not realize there is a problem with the environment until it is pointed out to them.

    This is something I personally find extremely important, and interesting to learn about. This idea can have so many impacts on the environment. Meaning if people really see how much damage all the pollution from factories, and vehicles are causing they may begin to cut down their use. I know personally, I love having positive impacts on the environment to eliminate pollution and waste. I use reusable shopping bags, and water bottles as much as I can. I do think that Google providing estimates on green-house gas emissions in certain cities will have a positive effect in the long run.

    This is an article I enjoyed reading, and this is something I will keep up with.

  2. Tess Coorens September 28, 2018 at 1:43 pm #

    The Earth is a big planet we all can call home. Over the past decades the evolutions we have made in technologies etc. have started to pollute our planet. A lot of different countries, cities and people themselves are focusing more and more on saving our planet. This article is showing how google is going to help people reduce greenhouse gases.
    What google did is they started to look at cities individually and calculated their greenhouse-gas emissions. This helps cities see where they are at right now and what they can do to help.
    Google is helping cities by showing them what they can do to decrease the greenhouse-gases emissions. I think it is a smart step for google to help cities in this way. It forces them to be more focused on actually reducing greenhouse gases as they now know what they can do to reduce it. For example, for one city, transportation can be their biggest carbon footprint and they know to reduce this by offering other options such as bike transportation or shared rides. Another city can have a bigger electricity carbon footprint. They could focus on city lights and billboards to reduce this.
    Google uses this new project, the Environmental Insights Explorer. This measures carbon emissions from transportation and electricity in cities. Although these are two big polluters, these are not the only causes of carbon solution. The EIE is not perfect yet and cannot excess data from heavy industry or agriculture yet, which are also big polluters. Since the data is also new they have only been able to look at 5 different cities.

    Clearly the project is not finished or reached its peak yet. What google is trying to achieve here is beneficial for cities and countries all around. Climate change has been a relevant topic for a few years now and individuals themselves are looking what they can do to reduce their own carbon footprint. As mentioned agriculture is also a big percentage of carbon pollution, according to the article it generates a third of its emissions. Due to this, more and more people are becoming vegetarian or are eating less meat to reduce part of this agriculture waste. Recycling also has become more popular over the years. Reducing the plastic in the oceans through different groups and for different reasons. There are projects out there to reduce plastic straw waste to safe turtles, as these straws get stuck in their noses and it reduces their breathing. A big company who joined by trying to reduce this is Starbucks, as now with their ice coffee’s they now no longer use straws, but they redesigned their lids so you can drink without straws. But there are more different projects to try and reduce the plastic waste in the oceans. All this attention makes individuals focus on their personal carbon footprint, however this is not enough to reduce carbon waste on a bigger scale. Therefore, what google is trying to do here sets a good example as it trying to help reduce carbon waste on a bigger scale. I think this was a very interesting article to read and I am curious how google is going to move forward with this project.

  3. Clement Bourret September 28, 2018 at 3:35 pm #

    Today, we are in the period of the Big Data revolution. Every single data now is collected by the GAFA and other big companies. We only start to understand how data can be useful to make people’s life easier and how to improve the human’s everyday life quality. Reducing emissions of greenhouses gases is very important for the future of the humanity. It seems like certain people or government don’t realize yet the importance of the climate. Even though, the French president Emmanuel Macron sent a strong message while the Paris Agreements in 2017, with the famous “Make our planet great again” referencing Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again”. He denounces the retirement of the United Stated from the Paris Agreements announced by Trump in June 2017 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Agreement). I personally think that is a shame that a country like the United States is retiring from the Paris Agreements especially since it is the second biggest country to emit greenhouses gases. Fortunately private companies can act on their own in order to play a role in the fight against the global warming. With the data collected from application like Google Maps or Waze, Google is going to be able to analyze the causes of greenhouses gases emissions. This will encourage, cities, states, or maybe governments to reassess their opinion and incorporate policies in their system in order to reduce pollution in the future.

  4. Dimitri Drosos September 28, 2018 at 4:43 pm #

    I think that Google being able to track the emission levels of numerous cities around the world can help the world tremendously. Granted that it will take time to develop to other parts of the world, it appears that it is doing a fine job so far. While there are other programs and such to measure carbon emissions, Google has a strong ability to so. The fact that they have Google Maps and Waze as an indicator makes it easier, I would think. In efforts to reduce these emissions and saving the environment, Google is on the right track.
    As soon as I saw the map at the beginning of the article, I was intrigued. So much sunlight is absorbed just by that small section of the city. The data that Google can collect would be immense, yet provide the basis for how countries would attack this issue. At the same time, anyone or anybody can use this information. In one of my textbooks, one thing that businesses try to accomplish is being eco-efficient. According to virgin.com, Nike is one that fits into this ideal. Obviously, Nike is very large and has established itself all around the world. I can see them using the service Google is providing, maybe to expand.
    The world is changing in so many different areas, especially technology. It is so important to recognize the potential that these changes have. Overall, I was impressed by what can be done by Google.

  5. Alexander Fialkowsky September 28, 2018 at 6:16 pm #

    The creation of the Environmental Insights Explorer by Google could be a very large step in the right direction to fight climate change. This problem has hung over our heads for most of modern times, the emissions produced by fossil fuels pollute the air with carbon dioxide and other toxins that increase global temperature, destroy ecosystems, as well as deteriorate the air quality for inhabitants. The idea by Google to have an application that projects and estimates carbon emissions of large cities is brilliant. In my opinion, I feel that since this is being conducted by an independent business rather than the government, especially a company as well known as Google, it will be easy for people to get on board with the idea of using this technology to clean up their cities. However, there could be a potential downside to countries that lack a proper Environmental Agency of the government. For in these countries I believe it would be easier for businesses to bribe and or persuade Google to under exaggerate high level emissions for the sake of business.
    This program will no doubt have a positive benefit on the quality of life in many areas, but there may also be a downside economically. Third world countries that contain American sweatshops are notorious for inadequate environmental protection. If new regulations were demanded due to Environmental Insights Explorer, there could be a shock of the economy of said country. For the most part, these factories generate a majority of the jobs in the countries where they are located. Taking away workers or profits could cause a ripple affecting possibly the whole nation. In summation, I feel that this program is beneficial, but must be used properly and with integrity. If a problem does arise in regards to a corporation, precaution has to be taken when making decisions in hopes of not disturbing the economy.

  6. Cassie Sibilski September 28, 2018 at 6:35 pm #

    Global warming is a very important issue that more people need to be aware of and have more information on to truly understand how much of an impact human activities are having on the environment. With all of the new technologies of today, there are so many new and interesting things we can use computers and data analysis to figure out. I think it is extremely interesting and useful for google to basically be taking inventory of greenhouse gas emissions by city. I think it is very important and informative for citizens of each city to realize what kind of an impact their city is making to contribute to global warming while being able to compare themselves on a global scale. Everyone has an ecological footprint and I think it is key data to be able to see which exact locations worldwide are emitting the most greenhouse gases. The part about google also being able to have data on driving, biking, etc is also very key to being able to understand this, as those are additional pieces of the puzzle. Having all of this specific data and information will no doubt be beneficial, probable for many reasons. Maybe we can recently come up with a plan to reduce our ecological footprint since we’ll have a bigger picture of how and where exactly we are using these resources. These tools will be able to influence decisions of city planners to be able to better build things in order to be the most environmentally effective. Having the information is going to make all of these things that much easier. In order for google’s plan to work, everyone he to want it to work. We have to be able to take three data that is found out through these technologies and programs and be able to spin it into something positive that we are going to change our ways for the environment. Just having the information alone is not going to help climate change. We need to act on the information we’re given and actively make changes to he way we are affecting the environment to truly make an impact.

  7. Douglas Tkac September 28, 2018 at 7:00 pm #

    After reading this article, I could not be happier that Google is making such a tool to show exactly how much greenhouse gas is getting released into the atmosphere. Even though the greenhouse information can only be extracted out of five cities, five cities are better than no cities. It is fantastic that Google is trying to scale it for most, if not all cities. However, I hope that this information isn’t rendered useless by some cities, and it won’t be just ignored like Global Warming has been for the last couple decades or so.

    Reducing the amount of greenhouse gases, I believe, is crucial to our generation’s future and is essential for many other generations. Greenhouse gases throws the climate all out of wack, with plenty of areas experiencing floods while other experience brutal droughts (For example, take this past year with New Jersey getting hammered late summer with torrential rain while northern California rages on with wildfires, as well as the multiple hurricanes and tropical storms hammering the lower east coast). Not only does it affect the weather on a day-by-day basis, but it will affect the future slowly but dangerously. Greenhouse gases melt glaciers and other forms of ice, which causes the sea level to rise ever so slowly. With uncontrolled and unsupervised amounts of greenhouse gases, cities such as Miami might be underwater in 40 or 50 years.

    With Google taking steps to reduce these in major cities across the world (such as Buenos Aires, Argentina and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), this will help the world immensely by having the public see for themselves how much greenhouse gases are we really producing. The program does it my estimating carbon emissions from cities, more specifically greenhouse gases given off by producing electricity and forms of transportation, more so from automobiles. Even though there are many other ways in which greenhouse gases can be produced, these two forms produce most of the greenhouse gases in a majority of cities in the world.

    Using this information, I think we can create a smarter and more earth-conscious planet. I believe that if we start to care about the planet more and more progressively, than we will be able to tackle more and more problems down the road. As the article reports, if Pittsburgh took 1 million more bike trips, we could save “almost 700,000 tons of CO2 being emitted into the air”. Even though its unlikely that Pittsburgh would do such a thing, it would not only be helping the planet, it would be helping the health of people as well. Once this country gets going about caring for the planet, the sky is the limit for innovation for the future.

  8. Brandon Ruiz September 28, 2018 at 7:46 pm #

    Climate change is something that will affect the future of our planet and therefore the future of the human race as we know it. However, climate policies revoked by President Donald Trump have made it much harder to fight climate change. Therefore it is up to individual cities to make a difference in the war against climate change. The way that they can do this is by reducing the amount of greenhouse-gas emissions their city produces every year. It is easy to say that cities need to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions, but not so easy to put into practice.

    The reason why it is so hard for cities to actually take actions to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions is because they don’t have concrete data to indicate where they need to place their focus. Without information on how much greenhouse-gas emissions their city produces, on what ways those emissions are created, and on the amount of greenhouse-gases each produces municipalities cannot move forward in making climate change policy to benefit the future of our world.

    Google has realized this and has started an effort to estimate the amount of greenhouse-gas emissions for individual cities not just in the United States, but around the world. They have actually already released estimates for five cities. They have dubbed the project the Environmental Insight Explorer. Google says that it plans to extend the program gradually to cover municipalities worldwide. This would give cities worldwide the tools to fight climate change. The larger implications that something like that could have are enormous. It could help cities all over the world to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions, which would then help us as a human race to reduce our harmful greenhouse-gas emissions. This would increase the health of our planet and create a better future for generations to come. With something like the Environmental Insight Explorer available cities will not have to create town policy in order to obtain the information they need to start making new climate change policy. Information from “http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/climate-change/” states that “it is likely that the end of this century will see a 1–2° C increase in global mean temperature.” This would irreversibly change the world’s climate and would have a whole range of consequences for future generations to come.

    The time to mobilize in order to combat climate change is now. Climate Change is not something that will yield its affects far into the future. The effects of climate change are something that will affect the lives of our future children and grandchildren. If we wait too long then we will leave the health of our planet in danger and possibly be a detriment to the future sustainability and survival of the human race. The only thing that we can do is try to coerce governments and municipalities around the world to take greater action on climate change. Climate Change will have a detrimental effect on the future health of our planet and therefore humanity as a whole if we don’t start to do something about it. The time to invoke change is now not later. Later will be too late.

  9. Julia Ausborn September 28, 2018 at 8:15 pm #

    Climate Change is a topic that concerns each one of us. Google’s plan to oversee the estimated greenhouse-gas emissions for individual cities will be the right step to gain more knowledge about the emission inventory of each city and start the conversation about how to lower emission. In order for Google to track greenhouse gas emissions their newest project, the Environmental Insights Explorer, will help gain insights into a city’s carbon emission.

    Looking back, climate change started many years ago. As coal mining came to popularity, its spoils, fossil fuels, were being used at an extrapolated rate. With the consumption of this energy source, greenhouse gases were emitted into the air and began to break down our atmosphere. The rise in greenhouse gas emissions is also tied to urbanizing land.

    For the future, changing the natural greenhouse from human activities will have drastic consequences. Overall, Earth will become warmer. While some regions might welcome those changes, others will have to suffer under the condition. Furthermore, some regions might become wetter, some dryer, and the melting of glaciers will increase the sea level. The environmental changes from region to region may not be similar, but these changes will happen. Climate conditions will change, natural disasters will increase (both in frequency and magnitude), and our planet will become more and more inhospitable. We have to take actions now to stop that from happening. I believe Google’s new Environmental Insights Explorer is a step in a greener direction.

  10. Petar Micevski September 28, 2018 at 8:42 pm #

    Google is famously known for their ability to impact the world via network and data trafficking. In some cases, Google tries to overstep with their constant data collection on society. This topic, however, is a huge step in the environment’s favor. Because Google has the ability to collect and interpret data on the majority of the world, they have an ability very few companies have: to be able to collect statistical data on a global scale. The reason why this process is very important is that global warming has been a very heated topic to talk about. With the collection of carbon emissions, Google will be able to quantify the problem, which means that we would be able to see specifically where the pollution is coming from, the type of pollution it is, and how long it’s going to take for it to be minimized. The concept of this idea seems very innovative and effective. However, I feel like the process of executing this could potentially be a difficult one. While Google is a very credible company, there were many issues involving privacy when it came to Google’s user tracking, and I think that the same issues would come when Google has to collect information on specific capital within towns and municipalities. What would happen if some companies decide not to give away their information about carbon emissions? And if they did, what would happen if Google tries to take down their factories? What I’m particularly curious about is which companies would suffer from revealing the information. While it would force them to adapt to more innovative and cleaner production, they certainly would need some time to get back to maximizing efficiency. Additionally, the legal aspect of doing such an activity comes into question. At the end of the day, Google is still a company, which means that they have business limitations that are still confined to the government. Today, our Senate has a Republican majority, which raises the question: How would they react to this information? Would they strike it down or would they be open to giving a company rights to access EPA information?

  11. Danielle Blanco September 28, 2018 at 10:52 pm #

    This article caught my attention because climate change is an important topic today. The concern over greenhouse gases, carbon emissions, pollution and other activities and affected how our life will be in the future and for our future generations. Due to the recent election, President Trump has not put in many acts to reduce waste being emitted into the Earth. We may not see it now, but our actions will have a long lasting affect.

    The fact that Google is making an initiative to help cities track their carbon emissions through transportation and electricity, which are the two major pollutants shows that they have a social responsible to the environment. They believe that they should go out of there and go beyond what is required to them as a company. In today’s world, since this is a main concern for many people, this effort by Google is giving the company a good public image. This will open up new opportunities for them. The Environmental Insight Explorer is just the first step in companies going beyond to help with the environment. However this is not something that will immediately stop carbon emissions in the cities that use Environmental Insight Explorer. This program is just an estimate on two pollutants. It does not estimate heavy industry and agricultural, which account for one third of U.S emissions. So this program would not be as useful for a city that has heavy amounts of heavy industry or agricultural pollution but it will give them a good idea on the two other areas that they can reduce in. This tool is just for cities to get a rough idea. It does not state in the article how Google would be recording their data from the electricity pollution. I am interested in whether they have the ability to get it from the users themselves or they are reaching out to the electric companies. There could be some instances where people are not handing over their data. Also, with the concept of using Google Maps to track transportation may be seen as invasion of privacy. Google is track how far you drive by using Google Maps so they are keying on where your car goes. People may feel uncomfortable with the fact someone has record of where they go on the daily basis such as work or home. Also, will the city simply request for them to track their carbon footprint or will city or Google pay to sponsor the program?

    Even though there are some questions about the new program by Google, it is admirable that they are finding a way to help cities pinpoint their carbon footprint so they can find a way to reduce the carbon emissions if they feel free to do so. They are currently no major efforts at the federal level to stop carbon emissions. So, rather than having the president pass a law at the federal level, cities can use this tool by Google to find way to reduce on their own. This is a good idea from Google and could be put to use. My generation is concerned about what the future holds. Many are unaware on how much carbon we truly emit into the atmosphere. Google’s findings may shock us and change the way we live.

  12. TylerP October 3, 2018 at 7:08 pm #

    It’s absolutely amazing to believe that as our technology has progressed at such astonishing rates so has the damage and effects of the pollution that has resulted due to the waste. Climate change as a whole, should be more of a concern now because of all evidence we are able to accumulate through advances in scientific technology. However, the Trump Administration since taking over from where the Obama Administration left off, has actually revoked climate control policies thereby making it harder to fight climate change legally. It was already up to cities and even corporations or large businesses to reduce the rates and amounts at which they pollute but, it is even more vital for them to do so now.

    This is why I was intrigued when I first starting reading this article, it talks about how Google is working with cities to provide the tools to estimate greenhouse gas emissions. Major cities across the world that are aware the dilemma that is greenhouse gas emission, and how they may reduce it in their respective territories. However, this article mentions that the city-leaders in charge in such operations to lower emissions do not really know where to start and that’s why Google is stepping in to provide aid. I am completely in favor of the idea of corporations working with the cities that they operate in. If the government is going to rollback on climate control from a national level, then it up to local governments to take charge. Otherwise, the effects of climate change which, are becoming more evident now, will begin to rapidly affect the lives of the generations to follow us.

    With the information, I hope that cities are able to pinpoint specific areas of need within their delegation, and are able to find solutions to the high emissions in those areas. With the proper budget allocation we could see vast cities begin to lower their green house gas emission rates which hopefully could help reduce the overall damage that we are doing to our Earth. At the end of the day, it should not just be corporations and cities, the effort should rest upon the shoulders of every human on this planet. It is up to us to ensure its health so that we may continue to survive and thrive here. Should there be no communal effort by all to ensure a brighter and healthier future for the Earth, than humanity may suffer in the long run once these global warming and pollution effects are irreversible.

    A key issue that may persist is if large corporations begin to step up and produce solutions and strategies to fight emissions and pollution as a whole is, will they do so responsibly or will they begin to look for profit in the form of sponsorships. I do not believe it would be in the best interest of the society as a whole to begin forcing tax payers of cities to pay to use services like the Environmental Insights Explorer if, Google did charge, and on top of that, pay for whatever solutions the city does come up with and begin to enact. In this case, too much of the burden falls directly on the citizens of the society as opposed to being split between them and the corporations who are thinking economically and responsibly. In the end, it is a matter of how people view climate change as a whole, it is great to see a company acknowledging that there is a global-wide issue that needs resolving. I hope that other companies begin to take suit and look for ways to contribute in the countries markets that they participate in.

    • Mackenzie Greenfield October 4, 2018 at 8:14 am #

      I was very glad to see Google’s willingness to help in the fight against climate change. One of the first steps in trying to reduce greenhouse emissions is having knowledge of current emissions and a way of continuously or periodically monitoring those emissions. One needs to be able to monitor after changes are put in place to know if those changes are effective or not.

      I think this will encourage cities to do something – maybe because they have some way of knowing and monitoring their emission or maybe because they will feel pressured to do something with public awareness of their level of emissions. As some cities begin to address the issue, it will hopefully draw more cities in.
      Google is following up on it commitment to “We are Still In” (https://www.businessinsider.com/we-are-still-in-group-represents-62-trillion-of-the-us-economy-plans-to-stay-in-paris-agreement-2017-6

      This is a coalition consisting of cities, states, businesses, and colleges/universities. Many off the businesses are Fortune 500 companies and include companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Target, Adidas, and Nike. It was established in June 2017. The group is committed to pursuing climate goals at a time when the national leadership has strayed from that commitment and after the US decided to pull out of the Paris agreement.

      Sometimes a group such as this might be set up to make a statement and then nothing much happens after that. I don’t think that will be the case here. I also think we need to draw more attention to companies that are pursuing climate goals to hopefully encourage more businesses and people to follow suit.

  13. Peter Duca October 4, 2018 at 3:02 pm #

    This is a great opportunity for Google to expand its business and shareholder wealth while helping to combat an issue that has plagued this country for some time. It is a great way for the private sector to get involved with combating climate change by offering governments data that can assist them in making environmentally friendly policies. The capabilities that Google has with the geographic data it has collected over the years is unmatched; while the EPA is the national data-collector of environmental data, its capabilities are nothing compared to a company like Google. Having Google enter the environmental data market will certainly take the burden off of governments to combat the climate change issue on their own, reduce costs to these governments, and create a synergy that could actually make a larger impact on reducing carbon emissions.

    This is an interesting swing from what the “normal” trend has been related to environmental issues. Many people have relied on governments to tackle emissions issues and make policies to regulate emissions in the past. The Trump administration has cut back on public intervention related to environmental issues, much to the public’s dismay. However, this seems to have opened the door for Google and other private firms to create a private solution that can tackle emissions issues from city-to-city, which could be an overall more efficient way to solve environmental issues than a national agency with limited resources trying to create a broad solution for the entire nation. The article even states how different municipalities have different causes for high emissions. Leveraging Google’s resources, capabilities, and data collection, cities can create personalized solutions to help reduce their emissions and aid in the initiative to create a solution to this problem. If more private companies become involved in collecting and analyzing environmental data, a new market could be created that could actually create a change in our country and make our country environmentally sustainable.

  14. Henry Steck October 5, 2018 at 7:26 pm #

    I think this article highlights a broader shift towards greater global consciousness of sustainability. This is not only because it is the “right thing to do” but we should also remember that Google’s shareholders are likely demanding such features.

    Wells Fargo’s 2018 account fraud scandal, Volkswagen’s 2015 emissions scandal and BP’s 2010 oil spill are three well known examples of unsustainable practices being uncovered. Following these events there were considerable sell-offs in each company’s stock. For investors in a market that is seemingly more concerned with sustainability than before, a company that does not focus on building sustainable practices can represent a risk.

    Sustainable investing enables individuals and institutions to select investment products based on their values. Today, millennials are spearheading a broad market movement towards value-based investment strategies. The impressive returns generated by these strategies in recent years is another force driving the explosive growth in popularity of sustainable investment vehicles.

    According to research completed by EY in 2017, asset and wealth managers have seen a 107% compound average growth rate in the influx of client funds into sustainable investment products over the past five years. EY also estimated that sustainable investments now account for 18% of assets under management (AUM) across the asset and wealth management industry, totaling approximately $4.3 trillion.

    Reflecting on how business was conducted 100 years ago, one might imagine factories belching dark fumes or the unscrupulous business decisions of Carnegie, Crocker and other robber barons immortalized in US history books. The focus in these times was of course solely on financial success. However, today more companies are focusing on a triple bottom line, seeking success not only financially, but also socially, and environmentally.

    One popular framework used by investors to evaluate whether a company’s practices are sustainable is the three criteria framework of “Environmental, Social and Governance” or ESG. The environmental aspect of ESG focuses on a company’s environmental stewardship. Does the company focus on developing clean technology, seek to reduce pollution and focus on the conservation of water and other natural resources? The social category evaluates a how a company interacts with its stakeholders. This includes employees, customers, and the community where a business operates. Does a business ensure workplace safety and work to create an inclusive environment at work? Finally, the “G” in ESG stands for governance, and examines a company’s leadership, internal dynamics and shareholder rights. Does a company fight corruption and keep executive compensation transparent?

    Although ESG criteria can be subjective, today many investors are assigning numerical scores to companies based on their evaluation of an organizations ESG. Although ESG scores may not carry as much weight as an earnings report yet, the group of investors that focuses on ESG numbers is quickly growing.

  15. RJC-Rider October 5, 2018 at 8:49 pm #

    The wonderful news of Google taking another interest in climate change could not have come sooner. Though many countries around the world see the importance of addressing global warming/ climate change, our current presidential administration fails to see the importance. This is self evident in our retraction from the Paris Agreement as well as our own President Trump’s comments. Thankfully for us, big American companies like Google see the merit in the science behind global warming and see the need to take action.
    Google’s green initiative is a first crucial step in attacking climate change control. By reporting on major cities (only 5 so far) Google is proposing problems with tangible numbers for cities with some resources to make a change. Google has provided a major service and has in a sense removed a barrier to beginning the process of climate control. Environmental emission studies are time consuming and costly. Municipal and even State governments most likely do not have excess funds lying around to put toward these studies. However, Google has now done this for the city allowing them to focus on making a change. Furthermore, these generated statistics can then be used to set realistic and attainable goals to begin to reduce greenhouse emissions.
    Additionally, Google is setting the stage for other companies to follow suit in a green initiative. A popular growing type of corporation known as a benefit corporation is gaining traction with younger generations. Millennials are willing to pay higher premiums for companies going the extra mile with green initiatives. Companies in today’s world will hopefully seek to capitalize on this and follow in Google’s footsteps making our world a little greener one company at a time.

  16. RyanL October 5, 2018 at 9:24 pm #

    Google’s participation in assisting individual cities with calculating estimates for greenhouse-gas emissions speaks volumes on its technological advancements in regards to sustainability efforts and ethical concerns for the global environment. Not only can Google’s objective fill the missing information gap, city-level leaders, including those who previously did not have the appropriate resources, will now be able to make more informed decisions on policies that can mitigate excessive emissions arising from particular sectors in the future, as the technology develops further. This can also improve the overall health of residents, such as reducing their exposure to dangerous gases, and encourage safer environmental practices among corporations and manufacturing bases.
    Additionally, the natural resources are depleting at an exponential rate relative to population increases, so having tools like Google’s can be beneficial. Perhaps, it can bolster the ability to seek new ways/strategies in becoming less reliant on non-renewables, such as fossil fuels, land, and chemicals. For consumerism, we as humans are highly dependent on phosphorus, which isn’t exactly “rare” as of today and is mainly cultivated from mining in reserves found in China and in the Middle East. However, as dependent as we are on phosphorus , there will be a time in the future when the supply will not be able to keep up with the high demand, which may increase its market price; therefore potentially increasing the prices of products that require phosphorus. Currently, the explorer tool can only estimate the carbon emissions created by transportation and electricity, which are two prominent sources of pollution in metropolitan areas. Despite this limitation in scope, it can still help identify environmental issues pertaining to these and may expedite the resolution process accordingly.

  17. Gabby O October 8, 2018 at 4:09 pm #

    Google continues to amaze me every day. The company’s new project, the Environmental Insights Explorer, is not only genius but provides local community/city leaders with a very tangible way of accessing data that can help them improve climate programs. I believe that climate change is a real problem that leaders of every level (local, state, national, etc.) should hold as a top priority. Google’s new tool is a huge step in the right direction and addresses the seriousness of this issue. Since President Trump took office, his administration “has brought a flurry of changes—both realized and anticipated—to U.S. environmental policy,” (https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/how-trump-is-changing-science-environment/). The article cited displays a running timeline of how the current administration is changing environmental policy. Unfortunately, I believe that many of these national changes are moving us farther backwards instead of forwards. Luckily, there are socially responsible companies out there, like Google, that are picking up the slack.

    I am fascinated that someday soon data regarding city-scale emissions inventory and ridership will be available to users. I was particularly struck by what Google Earth program manager, Saleem Van Groenou, said: “What we envision is an open search bar for users to search for their own city in the future.” This quote gives me the visual of typing a city into the Google search bar and having very accurate, updated data about that city’s emissions and ridership pop up. This type of search bar could greatly reduce the cost of collecting data for local leadership, making climate action easy and less costly. Collecting this data using already existing apps such as Google Maps and Waze displays how Google is using all its resources effectively. Being an avid user of both Waze and Google Maps, I would be interested to see what other types of data Google can pull from such apps.

    This new project also emphasizes Google’s initiative towards corporate social responsibility. I make this connection because I am currently discussing this topic in one of my courses. The broad view of corporate social responsibility aims to achieve commercial success in ways that honor ethical values and respect people, communities, and the natural environment in a sustainable manner while recognizing the interests of stake holders. Google’s tool shows that the company is trying to not only benefit stockholders, but the environment and society. This level of social responsibility and transparency is why Google continues to be at the top of list of search engines and companies to work for. I am excited to see where this project will go in the future and am interested in how local leadership will react/use this new information.

  18. Jaden Tate October 11, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

    Climate change is one thing that most people do not take seriously enough. There have been studies done of what could happen and what the world will look like if we do not make the change now. The EPA has done a great job at trying to regulate certain things that we do to protect the world, but I feel as though if they would allow for Google to hop on and help them things would go a lot quicker. With Google being able to predict/find out how much emission certain cities are giving out and how they could be a liability to the EPA. The “Estimating greenhouse gas emissions for individual cities,” is Googles new plan to help out the world. By Google being able to break down each major cities most impactful ways of pollution they are able to cut the pollution down. The EPA sets laws for people across the country to follow but what if they also implemented rules for the needs of individual cities? Say since Pennsylvania’s “power grid drives more than three times the emissions as the transportation sector” the EPA decides that Pennsylvania has 2 days out of the year where the power is shut off for 4 hours. Though this would through people off and things for a loop those 8 hours a year could really add up and help the planet. For Buenos Aires “where cars and trucks produce twice the pollution created by the electricity grid” there cannot be any cars on the road for 6 hours, 2 days out of the year. This, in turn, would also allow people to walk from place to place if necessary or ride a bike. They would have to find a different means of transportation other than cars. By Google and EPA working together they could potentially be able to drop the pollution levels drastically. It is truly ingenious that Google has come up with this program that is able to tell us where the pollution is coming from. Though in the paragraph it says how some people believe that Google is coming for the EPA I believe that they were just looking for a more efficient way of getting the data that they need to try and prevent the climate changes from continuously increasing at a drastic rate. At the end of the article, it states the “this is not something that Google can do alone… this is something we have to come together to make any change on” and with many people on board with helping there is no reason why we cannot drastically decrease the amount of pollution we have human emit into the world.

  19. Allegra D October 17, 2018 at 11:27 am #

    Global warming has been at the center of controversy for many years and saving the environment has been the top priority for many scientists and environmental activist. Many programs and technologies have developed to produce less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. The movement from gasoline powered cars to electric cars is still small but increasing as more companies such as Tesla who are creating elegant electric cars and ford who manufacture fuel efficient, eco friendly, and affordable hybrid cars. As technology improves and supply of electric cars increases, more and more people will purchase eco friendly cars to help save the environment. Google and other companies have even entered the industry of electric self driving cars, which is a push to create environmentally friendly public transportation. While technology and laws for this type of innovative car is years away from being perfected, the increase of environmentally friendly public transportation could greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer is an incredible project that, when perfected, will change the way studied global warming. This program will be able to produce data on greenhouse gas emissions, for individual cities and publicize them for anyone to see. This data will help individual cities break down their impact on the environment and how to reduce their pollution. This information that Google is working on collecting and making public is an advance in solving the global warming crisis. Fellow blogger Dimitri D makes a great point when he says how businesses can use this information to create a more eco friendly environment. Manufacturing a huge contributor to greenhouse gasses and each business can work on reducing their emissions.

    I agree with fellow blogger Clement B that it is wrong more for the United States that President Donald Trump decided to retire the United States from the Paris agreement. The Paris agreement requires each country to take responsibility for their greenhouse gas emissions and propose plans to control and regulate them. It is absurd that the United States, who is a leader in emissions, is able to not report and take responsibility for their effect on the environment. Fortunately, Google was able to create the Environmental Insights Explorer that will enable individual cities to regulate their own emissions. It is important to remember that Google cannot make this project happen without the help of other agencies, companies, and local governments contributions. The Earth is shared by every living thing and it is up to the people to work together to save the planet.

  20. Alexis Pateiro October 25, 2018 at 10:28 am #

    This article caught my attention because climate change has been an important topic for the past decade and has been a huge concern. I have always found this topic important and interesting, therefore, reading more about it seemed ideal for me. I think it is very interesting how Google is trying to help cities reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by estimating and showing cities their greenhouse-gas emissions for each city. I also think that it is ideal for Google to use the program Google Earth because it’s easy to maneuver and people have used it already and it is easy to break it up by city on that program. I believe their starting off on the right track but choosing larger cities first because they have a bigger impact on the environment and are a huge factor of climate change. Google could have a huge impact by doing this and could make major cities that impact climate change more eco-friendly.
    Google’s attempt to help the environment is very thoughtful especially since the concern of climate change is increasing. I think that Google has the potential and ability to make this a great improvement for the environment and to inform people of the harmful effects of greenhouse-gasses to our environment. It is amazing how they can look at the use of resources like electricity and transportation to come up with an idea of the amount of pollution in each city. As I continue to read this article it concerns me that leaders may get a little too involved in the Environmental Insights Explorer. There is a possibility that data could get swayed depending on the leader and there is always the risk of a pay-off or bribe to tweak information. Therefore, I think that Google needs to be careful and make sure that no data is tampered with or impacted by anyone. All data within this program should be solely based on the pollution and statistics they find.

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