Millions of people are expected to take part in climate strikes around the world on Friday 20 September © Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Millions of people are expected to take part in climate strikes around the world on Friday 20 September © Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Google makes world’s largest purchase of renewable energy

Google has bought 1,600 megawatts (MW) of capacity in the world’s largest corporate procurement of renewable energy

Google purchased a package of agreements, including 18 new energy deals for projects around the world. 

The firm is buying capacity in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas to double the capacity of its global solar portfolio.

It has also purchased renewable energy capacity to supply its data centre in Chile and capacity in Finland, Sweden, Belgium, and Denmark.

The deals will increase the tech giant’s existing renewable energy portfolio of wind and solar agreements by more than 40% to 5.5 MW, which is equivalent to 1m solar rooftops. 

Its carbon-free energy portfolio will produce more electricity than entire countries, such as Lithuania or Uruguay, use in a year, Google said.  

As part of the agreement, $2bn will be spent on new energy infrastructure including solar panels and wind turbines.

In a blog Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the latest deals meet the business’s “additionality” criteria for energy purchases. 

The criteria ensures any renewable energy Google purchases does not come from existing energy regulations, but from not yet constructed facilities which will be built to go above and beyond existing energy regulations. 

“This means we’re not buying power from existing wind and solar farms but instead are making long-term purchase commitments that result in the development of new projects,” Pichai added. 

Meanwhile, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has promised the company will become carbon-neutral and meet the targets set out within the Paris Climate Agreement by 2040, 10 years before originally planned. 

The company has also launched The Climate Pledge, which calls on businesses to be net zero carbon by 2040.

Bezos said: “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon – which delivers more than 10 billion items a year – can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can.”

The announcement comes as 1,500 Amazon employees at the company’s headquarters in Seattle are set to walk out today (Friday 20 September) as part of global climate strikes. 

While the move was welcomed by Greenpeace, the organisation urged Amazon to end its use of fossil fuels.

“Amazon is known for speed, but if Jeff Bezos wants Amazon to be a leader on climate, he needs to spell out exactly how it is going to rapidly move the company off of fossil fuels to keep our planet within the 1.5 degree temperature threshold in the Paris Agreement that Amazon has now committed to. 

“Throwing money at carbon offsets and continuing to support the oil giants find even more oil is an early indication that Jeff Bezos doesn’t understand the transition that is needed,” Greenpeace said. 

Global food manufacturer Nestlé also announced its carbon emissions targets, with the company planning to go carbon neutral across its operations by 2050. 

Its actions include reformulating its products using more climate-friendly ingredients and moving to alternative packaging materials.

Magdi Batato, executive VP, head of operations at Nestlé, said: “To align our goals to the 1.5°C pathway, we are transforming our operations. This will lead to a major shift in the way our ingredients are produced and sourced. We will need our suppliers to embark on this journey with us. The task is huge but we are determined to make it happen.”

Meanwhile, fast food chain Burger King has announced it will no longer give away plastic toys with its kids meals. The restaurant is also collecting old promotional toys to be melted down to create new items. 

The move follows a petition by two school children in Hampshire, who called for companies to “think of the environment” before handing out plastic toys. The petition has received over half a million signatures. 

And the Body Shop is trialling a refill station for its shower gels in a new concept store on London’s Bond Street.  

Materials within the shop have also been upcycled, including till points rescued from landfill and stools made using reclaimed steel and recycled wood.

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