Flying is required from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a typical trip for some Californians, can generate 101 kilograms of carbon emissions, or 142 or 366 kilograms—depending on where you search online.
The mixed estimates come from what some climate experts see as a growing problem, with Google in the middle. More and more people are trying to adapt to climate change in lifestyle choices such as where to go or what to eat. However, scientists are still debating how to accurately calculate the results of many activities, including flight or animal production. Although the math is sorted, some industries oppose emissions as inappropriate.
Google has led the way among major tech companies in trying to inform users about how they can reduce carbon emissions by traveling, heating their homes and, as recently as recently, making dinner. But airlines, cattle ranchers, and other retail groups are pushing back, saying Google’s offensive could hurt their sales. They want — well, in the case of airplanes — the search giant to rethink the way it calculates and presents emissions data.
The United Nations Climate Change Organization has started to say that individual decisions are important, for example in last year’s report that taking trains and avoiding long journeys could lead to a 40 percent reduction in global carbon emissions by 2050 due to climate change. how people choose to travel. But for consumers, calculating their own carbon footprint is difficult, as large studies tend to focus on global or regional rather than individual metrics, researchers say.
Scientists and developers working on emissions estimates are concerned that showing consumers different products could misinform them about their choices and discourage them from believing the emissions estimates for years to come. This would prevent slowing down of global warming emissions.
“It’s about fragmentation and misunderstanding,” says Sally Davey, chief executive of Travalyst, a non-profit that is calling on travel players including airlines, Google, Expedia, and Visa to establish emission standards. “If we make noise that isn’t clear and consistent, people will turn it off, and we won’t drive what we want.”
Google emerged as a powerful force in consumer climate change since it set a goal in September 2020 to help 1 billion people make sustainable decisions by the end of 2022. , Search, Nest thermostats, and other Google services, which have more than 3 billion users. Last year brought high-profile Google searches for “rooftop solar power,” “electric bikes,” and “electric cars,” according to the company.
Competitors such as Apple, which optimizes iPhone charging based on the integration of power sources on the local grid, and Microsoft, which searches for natural shopping products on Bing, have launched their “green”. But no consumer technology company can match the size or audience size of Google’s weather features or the amount of data it pushes to consumers, down to a tenth of a kilogram of protein-related air.
However, Google’s chief security officer, Kate Brandt, admits that its goal of informing users about carbon-neutral choices is a work in progress. “We see people want information, but they don’t know what to choose,” he says. “Data will continue to change and improve. It never stops.” Brandt declined to say whether Google had met its goal of serving 1 billion people by the end of 2022 but said the company plans to report its progress in its annual environmental report, which is due in the middle of this year.
Joro, a start-up that offers software to track and reduce emissions from card purchases, recently reviewed four online calculators to compare emissions and help consumers. His analysis, which drew on the guidance of academic advisors such as Yale University environmental researcher Reed Miller, showed significant differences between routes including San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (the UN’s civil aviation organization) and the international airline trade group IATA offer different methods of calculating the number of flights, Joro says. The trade group calculates the flight time at the distance traveled and uses data from airplanes on the type of fuel and cargo taken from actual flights instead of what the group considers to be the minimum calculations used by other calculators.
Joro also found that Google is parting ways with the Swiss non-profit Myclimate, which consults with companies that want to calculate and reduce emissions. Unlike a research company, Myclimate integrates climate from start to finish including jet fuel production, airport shuttles, and bus passengers from the gates. Myclimate also adds some carbon-neutral features, including the warming of contrails, which are clouds made by airplane smoke.