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Google can now help you lower your carbon footprint when you fly, drive, bike, shop, stay in a hotel

By Tanya Lara Published Oct 08, 2021 7:01 pm

Climate change is real—so is your contribution to the world’s growing carbon emissions.

Tech giant Google can help ease your conscience and for you to take steps to lower your carbon emissions when you travel by air, car, bike and stay in hotels around the world.

Google Flights launched Oct. 8 features to help you make smart decisions when you travel, starting with what flights to book and where to stay. Now, you can see carbon emissions information on your flight—yes, specific to airline, flight and seat—so you can find lower-carbon options.

The emission estimates, according to Google’s blog, are derived from data from the European Environmental Agency and flight-specific information Google gets from airlines and other providers such as aircraft type, flight distance and the number of seats in each seating class.

For instance, newer aircraft are “generally less polluting than older aircraft, and emissions increase for premium economy and first-class seats because they take up more space and account for a larger share of total emissions.” 

When you’re deciding which hotels to book, you’ll see information on their sustainability efforts, which include waste reduction and water conservation measures, and whether they’re Green Key or EarthCheck certified.

When you travel by car—“one of the more carbon-intensive choices people make on a daily basis”—Google Maps also helps you find the most fuel-efficient route if it isn’t already the fastest one. Unfortunately, this rollout is only in the US and Europe—for now.

If motorists followed the eco-friendly routes, it is estimated to save over one million tons of carbon emissions per year or “the equivalent of removing over 200,000 cars from the road — and save people money by reducing fuel consumption.”

Google identifies these routes using artificial intelligence and traffic light information. “Google has been piloting this research in Israel to predict traffic conditions and improve the timing of when traffic lights change. So far, there is a 10-20% reduction in fuel consumption and delay time at intersections. These pilots will be expanded to Rio de Janeiro and beyond.”

If you’re searching for a car to buy, it’s now easier on Google to see hybrid and electric vehicle options and compare them against gas-powered models and find rebates. Rollout begins in the US in 2022.

For those who are already using bikes instead of cars to get around their cities, Google is introducing lite navigation for cyclists on Maps to help them find bikes and scooter shares in over 300 cities around the world.

When you shop for home appliances, Google Search will show you suggestions for energy-intensive products in its Shopping tab, narrowing search results on cost-effective and sustainable options.

What about weeding out misinformation on climate change? After all, just as many people are convinced that the Earth is flat, there are as many (if not more) who don’t believe in climate change. Google Search “will show authoritative information from sources like the United Nations, in addition to the existing news sources that they surface—all part of their goal to help one billion people make more sustainable choices by 2022.”

Watch the full Sustainable with Google event in this video.