Google emissions rose 13 percent from AI energy consumption

Google’s emissions rose 13 percent last year despite the tech giant’s goals to become net-zero by the end of the decade as artificial intelligence (AI) drives an increase in energy consumption.

“As we further integrate AI into our products, reducing emissions may be challenging due to increasing energy demands from the greater intensity of AI compute, and the emissions associated with the expected increases in our technical infrastructure investment,” Google wrote in its annual environmental report.

The company aims to cut its total greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and invest in carbon removal solutions to neutralize its remaining emissions.

However, since its baseline year of 2019, Google’s emissions have ticked up 48 percent, rising from the equivalent of 9.7 million tons of carbon dioxide to 14.3 million tons, according to the report released Tuesday.

Google’s data center electricity consumption grew by 17 percent last year, to more than 24 terawatt hours, translating to about 7 percent to 10 percent of global data center electricity consumption.

“AI is at an inflection point and many factors will influence its ultimate impact—including the extent of AI adoption, our ability to mitigate its footprint, and the pace of continued innovation and efficiency,” Google noted in the report.

“While we remain optimistic about AI’s potential to drive positive change, we’re also clear-eyed about its potential environmental impact and the collaborative effort required to navigate this evolving landscape,” it added.

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