Google’s greenhouse gas emissions climbed nearly 50 percent in five years due to AI

According to the company’s 2024 Environmental Report, Google’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased nearly 50 percent in the past five years thanks to data centers packed with the energy required to power artificial intelligence. Tuesday. Google’s annual report shows the company’s progress toward its self-proclaimed goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Google released 14.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2023, up 48 percent from 2019 and up 13 percent from a year earlier, the report said. “This result is primarily due to increased data center energy consumption and supply chain emissions,” Google said in the report. “As we further integrate AI into our products, emissions reductions may be challenging due to increased energy demands associated with anticipated increases in our technical infrastructure investment.”

Google’s report highlights the environmental impact the artificial intelligence explosion is having on the planet. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, Apple and other tech companies plan to spend billions of dollars on artificial intelligence, but developing artificial intelligence models requires a lot of energy. Using artificial intelligence features consumes a significant amount of energy. In 2023, AI startup Hugging Face and Carnegie Mellon University researchers creating a single image using artificial intelligence can use as much energy as charging a smartphone. Bernstein analysts said AI will “double the rate of growth in US electricity demand, and total consumption could outpace current supply in the next two years.” Financial Times . Last month, Microsoft, which pledged to be “carbon negative” by the end of this decade, Its greenhouse gas emissions have risen nearly 30 percent since 2020 thanks to the construction of data centers.

A Google report says the company’s data centers are using more water than ever to stay cool as a result of increased AI workloads. Some of these workloads have so far involved Google Search where people eat rocks and put glue on their pizzas to prevent the cheese from falling, as well as the company’s artificial intelligence chatbot Gemini, .

In 2023, Google’s data centers consumed 17 percent more water than the previous year. That’s 6.1 billion liters, enough to water about 41 golf courses in the southwestern United States each year.

“As our business and industry continue to evolve, we expect our total GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions to increase without meeting our absolute emissions reduction target,” Google’s report said, without explaining the reason for the decrease. “Predicting the future impact of the EU on the environment is complex and evolving, and our historical trends likely do not fully reflect the future trajectory of AI. As we integrate AI deeply into our product portfolio, the distinction between AI and other workloads will not be meaningful.”

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