You worked under President Barack Obama as his sustainability officer. Why did you switch to Google afterwards?
The climate crisis is the most pressing challenge of our time, and this decade is crucial. So we still have eight years to set the right course. We can only do this if everyone participates: States, companies, each and every individual. For Google, sustainability has been one of the most important values since it was founded. And I believe that we can make a real contribution with our technology: by enabling and supporting others on their way to more sustainability, but of course also by becoming even better ourselves.
Then let’s talk about Google’s own carbon footprint. The group operates huge data centers all over the world. How can that be sustainable?
In fact, this is the question that drives us. From the beginning we try to operate our data centers as sustainably as possible. That means: We use as little electricity as possible. In addition, since 2017, we have been purchasing as much electricity from renewable energies as we use in the annual balance sheet. What we still emit in terms of CO2, for example at times of the day when there is not enough renewable energy available, we compensate by investing in climate protection projects, for which we receive CO2 credits. Now we want to take the next step and work completely CO2-free by 2030, at all locations, around the clock. All electricity for our data centers will then come from zero-carbon sources, 24 hours a day. As our CEO Sundar Pichai once put it, this is a similarly ambitious goal to developing self-driving cars or a quantum computer.