Google set itself an unprecedented target on Monday – to operate 24/7 on carbon-free energy by 2030. CEO Sundar Pichai described the move as his company’s “biggest sustainability moonshot yet.”

Google’s Carbon-Free ‘Sustainability Moonshot’

In a blog post, Mr. Pichai wrote:

We’ll start by working towards 24/7 carbon-free energy at all of our data centers and campuses around the world. Our data centers power the products and services you’ve come to rely on every day. This will mean every email you send through Gmail, every question you ask Google Search, every YouTube video you watch, and every route you take using Google Maps, is supplied by clean energy every hour of every day.

Furthermore, Mr. Pichai said that Google will invest to enable 5 GW of carbon-free energy across its key manufacturing regions. “We expect this to spur more than $5 billion in clean energy investments,” he added. Google is also expanding the Environmental Insights Explorer to cover over 3000 cities, helping them to reduce emissions.

Google is, of course, far from the only tech giant to work to reduce the damage it does to the environment. Apple recently pledged to be 100 percent carbon neutral, including its supply chain, by 2030. Microsoft, meanwhile, is aiming to be carbon negative by the end of the decade.

Campaigners Turn Attention to Amazon Web Serves

Responding to the announcement Elizabeth Jardim, Greenpeace USA Senior Corporate Campaigner said:

By becoming the first major tech company to commit to power its data centers with carbon-free energy around the clock, Google is setting a new high-bar for the sector: a break-up with fossil fuels altogether. Today’s announcement shows that the company takes its role in combating climate change seriously. We hope Google will follow through on its promise in May to wind down its artificial intelligence solutions for upstream oil and gas exploration and extend this commitment to any tools that boost fossil fuel production. The next decade is the one that counts in our fight to stave off the climate crisis, Amazon Web Services, the largest cloud company, should take note and accelerate the timeline and ambition of its own Climate Pledge.

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There’s a difference between Carbon Free, entirely reliant on renewable energy and “carbon neutral” where you still pollute, but play a shell game with “offsets” that really don’t in the long run mean anything. Good for Google.