google maps

Google Maps introduces low-carbon routing options for cars and bikes

Image credit: Dreamstime

Google has unveiled a revamp of its Maps app and flight-searching tools designed to help its users reduce their carbon footprint when travelling.

New eco-friendly routes will be available on Google Maps, including updates to biking directions and bike and scooter share information. A new routing model has also been implemented for cars which is designed to help lower fuel consumption to save on carbon and petrol money.

While the new routes are only rolling out in the US at the moment, Google said it plans to expand this to “Europe and beyond” next year. It said the routing options could help to save over one million tons of carbon emissions per year, equivalent to removing about 200,000 cars from the road.

The search firm has also implemented new carbon features into its flight comparison tools that let users see the emissions per flight. The information will be displayed next to the price and flight times in order to help users factor carbon emissions into their purchasing decisions.

These emission estimates are both flight and seat-specific so that the lower fuel usage of newer, more efficient aircraft is taken into account, as well as considerations about the carbon impact of booking larger seats in premium economy and first class compared to economy.

Flights with significantly lower emissions will be labelled with a green badge and listings can even be prioritised according to their carbon impact.

“Climate change is no longer a distant threat - it’s increasingly local and personal,” said Sundar Pichai, Google and Alphabet chief executive, writing in a blog post about the announcements.

“Around the world, wildfires, flooding and other extreme weather continue to affect our health, our economies and our future together on our planet. We need urgent and meaningful solutions to address this pressing challenge. That’s why last year we committed to bold action to run our data centres and campuses on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030.

“Companies aren’t the only ones asking what more we can do to help the planet – increasingly people are asking themselves those questions, too. So today we’re sharing several new ways people can use Google’s products to make sustainable choices.

“Among them, we’re introducing new features to book flights or purchase appliances that have lower carbon footprints, a Nest program to support clean energy from home, and eco-friendly routing on Google Maps which is rolling out today.”

Google announced last year that it aims to power all its data centres and offices with carbon-free energy by 2030, matching pledges already made by rival tech firm Apple.

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