Get All Access for $5/mo

New Google Report Reveals the Hidden Cost of AI Google has a long way to go to meet its 2030 goal.

By Sherin Shibu

Key Takeaways

  • Google’s carbon footprint is bigger now than it was in 2019 because of AI.
  • Google’s 2024 environmental report, released Tuesday, revealed a nearly 50% increase in greenhouse gas emissions within four years.
  • The company also highlighted AI’s potential to reduce emissions.

Google wants to get to net zero emissions by 2030, but its AI investment is making its environmental commitment more challenging.

Google released its 2024 environmental report on Tuesday and reported a nearly 50% increase in greenhouse gas emissions within the span of four years. In 2023, the tech giant's emissions totaled 14.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, a 13% increase from 2022 and a 48% increase since 2019.

Energy consumed by data centers and Google's supply chain contributed most to the increase.

"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," Google wrote.

Related: Google Says Election Ads With Deepfakes Must Be Labeled

The company also expects to produce more emissions as it invests more deeply in the technical infrastructure needed for AI.


Sign outside Google's campus in Mountain View, California. Photographer: Mike Kai Chen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

AI complicates the net-zero goal Google set three years ago, to balance the emissions it releases with removal until its carbon footprint reaches net zero.

Google acknowledged the challenge more than once in its environmental report, writing that AI's future environmental impact "is complex and difficult to predict."

At the same time, Google placed AI's potential to address climate change front and center in the report, highlighting a 2021 Boston Consulting Group study that claimed that AI can reduce overall emissions by 5% to 10%.

"AI has a critical enabling role to play in accelerating mitigation, supporting adaptation, and building foundational capabilities for the transition to a low-carbon future," Google wrote.

Google has released multiple AI products to the public, including AI overviews in Search and AI integration with Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Sheets.

Related: Google Adds Gemini AI to Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive

The tech giant isn't alone in feeling the energy downside of AI: Microsoft too, which has a net-zero by 2030 goal, reported in May that emissions jumped 30% from 2020 to 2023.

Sherin Shibu

Entrepreneur Staff

News Reporter

Sherin Shibu is a business news reporter at Entrepreneur.com. She previously worked for PCMag, Business Insider, The Messenger, and ZDNET as a reporter and copyeditor. Her areas of coverage encompass tech, business, strategy, finance, and even space. She is a Columbia University graduate.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.

Living

Taylor Swift Has a Lucky Number. And She's Not the Only High Performer Who Leans Into Superstitions to Boost Confidence.

Even megastars like Swift need a little extra something to get them in the right mindset when it is game time.

Career

These 3 Big Tech Companies Offer 6-Figure Salaries and Easy Interviews — Especially If You Follow This Expert's Advice

There are far more candidates than positions, so being strategic on the job hunt is key.

Marketing

SEO Trends You Need to Be Aware of Right Now, According to a Seasoned Pro

Navigate the future of search engine optimization to elevate your online presence and drive meaningful engagement.

Health & Wellness

4 Habits I Cultivated to Become a Healthier, More Effective Entrepreneur

By the time I hit mid-life, some of my bad habits were becoming a risk to my long-term business goals — and my health. Here's how I was able to change them.