Google is launching a host of new updates to a number of its services as part of a global effort to help consumers make environmentally-friendly choices both at home and on the road, the company announced Wednesday.
“Today, climate change is more than a threat,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent company, Alphabet, said in a recorded statement. “It is a real and present danger. From wildfires to flooding to more frequent and severe storms, climate change is the most profound risk we face, one that affects our health, our economies and our future together on this planet.”
The first major change is an option for consumers to travel and shop sustainably by getting information about carbon emissions next to Google flight options. Starting Wednesday, travelers from all over the world will be able to see carbon emissions estimates not only for any given flight, but also for seat choices and hotels at their destination.
Flights with “significantly lower emissions” will be marked with a green badge, and consumers will be able to sort flights by carbon output in the same way they can search by flight duration, cost or number of stops.
Another update, which goes into effect Wednesday in the United States and will launch in Europe in 2022, is a change to Google Maps’ driving routes. Maps will now allow users to select the most fuel-efficient route, if it isn’t already the fastest highlighted trip from point A to point B. Users will be able to see estimated savings on fuel and the time difference between the two routes.
Google estimates the new fuel-efficient update will prevent around one million tons of transportation-related emissions in the next year alone, or the equivalent of nearly 200,000 cars.
The mapping feature was created with data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
“Not only does Google Maps' eco-friendly routing bring NREL’s fuel-efficient technology from the lab to the road, but it has huge potential to significantly lower emissions and save drivers money on gas — something that’s good for both people and the planet,” Jeff Gonder, NREL’s Center for Integrated Mobility Sciences manager, wrote in a statement.
Google also rolled out an update to its smart-home product Nest thermostats, which can now employ the “Energy Shift” mode to automatically optimize the temperature inside a home to use the least amount of energy, without sacrificing comfort.
Wednesday’s announcements are part of Alphabet’s ongoing pledge to become more environmentally-conscious across all of its operations.
The company has been a leading force among private institutions in the fight against climate change. In 2007, Google became the first major tech company to become carbon neutral; last year, Google announced it would aim to “operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy in all our data centers and campuses worldwide” by 2030 at the latest.