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Climate change is humanity’s next big moonshot

October 23rd, 2021

Editor’s note: Today, Google GEO Sundar Pichai spoke at YouTube’s Dear Earth event, sharing ways Google is working to solve climate change — and why he’s optimistic we can make meaningful progress. Below is a transcript of his remarks.

Hello, fellow dear earthlings. Thanks for tuning in. I can’t think of another issue that would bring together former President Obama, Pope Francis, and BLACKPINK. It’s more proof that climate change is the biggest challenge we face…and it’s one that will affect all of us in deeply personal ways.

You know, there was water scarcity when I was growing up and droughts were frequent events. Over time, the water table became really low and many homes didn’t have access to fresh water. We would have to wait for rationed water to be brought in on trucks and then wait in long lines to carry water back home.

There were times when the trucks didn’t come at all — and it was all just part of normal life.

Fast forward to 2015, I woke up to the news that Chennai had a 1-in-100 year flood and saw pictures where the whole city was submerged in water. Over two million people were displaced. It really drove home for me, in a personal way, how climate change can impact communities, especially those already facing challenges.

A couple of years after that, I woke up to orange skies and smoke from nearby wildfires in California. It was another reminder how climate change is impacting so many of our communities.

Despite these challenges, I’m still optimistic about our future.

That’s because I believe in people. Throughout history, people have made the impossible, possible. We’ve developed life-saving vaccines, expanded opportunities through the internet, and landed on the moon.

Solving climate change is humanity’s next big moonshot.

But unlike the moon landing — there is a clear deadline for action, and severe consequences if we fail.

Yet there’s good news, too: There are more people focused on solving climate change than ever before. From governments and academic researchers, to companies like ours, to people like you.

And your generation is rightfully demanding solutions and holding us to account.

The other bright spot is technology. A lot can change in ten years. Ten years ago most of Google’s energy consumption was from traditional sources. Today, we match 100 percent of our energy with renewable sources.

That shows you what is possible in a decade. And now, we’re focused on the next ten years.

Rather than tell you what we’re doing — let me show you. This is what it looks like inside one of Google’s data centers.

Data centers are what make the internet run. They power the games you stream and the YouTube videos you watch. And they run on about 1% of the world’s electricity, and so changing how that electricity is generated can make a big impact on the other 99%.

That’s why we want to run our data centers on carbon-free energy, 24/7. So, in the future, every search you do, every YouTube video you watch, every Gmail you send will be powered by clean energy — sources like wind, solar, and geothermal. And our goal is to do all this by 2030.

Right now, I’m standing inside our newest building at our headquarters in California. As you can see, it’s still under construction. It will take workspace design and sustainability to a new level. The lumber is all responsibly sourced. And when it rains, we collect the water, treat it and keep it in tanks for future use.

Maybe my favorite thing about this building is the roof. The outside is covered in solar panels that remind me of a dragon’s scales. And it will generate about 40% of the energy the building uses.

Sustainable operations and design can make a big difference. So can people.

Our goal is to find new ways that our products can help one billion people make more sustainable choices in their daily lives. Like choosing the most eco-friendly route home. Or find the nearest bike share.

These small changes can add up to a big impact — and our planet and your future deserve nothing less.

There will be moments when it feels like progress isn’t fast enough. Or that action isn’t bold enough. So be impatient. That’s what will drive progress. It’s the only thing that ever does.

If you do that, together, we can make sure our planet’s best days are still ahead.