Google.org launches $30m Impact Challenge on Climate Innovation

A $30m Impact Challenge on Climate Innovation has this week been launched by Google.org.

The global initiative will look for ambitious projects that “accelerate advances in climate information and action, driven by open data, AI, and machine learning” which extends Google’s ongoing commitment to climate action, the tech giant said.

Applications are now open and the winning six organizations will receive $5m each in grant funding, along with pro bono access to Google’s products and technical expertise. The funding must be used to speed up the development of tools that advocates, policymakers, businesses, and individuals need to drive positive impact, Google said.

This year’s international impact challenge follows Google.org’s European-focused Impact Challenge on Climate in 2020, and a $6m Google.org Sustainability Seed Fund that the philanthropic arm launched earlier this year for the Asia-Pacific region.

Previous UK-based recipients of Google.org grants include Materiom, a platform that helps to share the building blocks of high-performing, low-carbon compostables, and Saildrone, an organization that uses drones to quantify Gulf-Stream data in real-time to help improve weather and global carbon emission predictions.

Open Climate Fix a non-profit firm that uses machine learning and satellite data to improve the forecasting of solar power, thereby supporting the decarbonisation of power systems, has also received funding.

“Google has been committed to climate action for decades – and during that time, we’ve learned that we can have the biggest impact on our planet by working together,” said Kate Brandt, chief sustainability officer at Google.org in a blogpost announcing the initiative. “Through the Google.org Impact Challenge on Climate Innovation, we’ll build on this work by supporting nonprofits and social enterprises that demonstrate the power of digital technology in climate innovation.”

Organizations can now apply and learn more about the Challenge online with priority given to proposals received by 29th July.

Brandt said the fund would complement the internet giant’s wider investment in climate action: “We’re leading by example at Google by setting a goal to achieve net-zero emissions across all of our operations and value chain, including our consumer hardware products, by 2030,” she said. “We’re going even further for our data centers and campuses, with a moonshot goal to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy by the end of the decade. Our work to procure clean energy around the world not only helps us decarbonize our own operations, but also greens the local grids where we’re based, benefitting entire regions.”

Earlier this year, Google outlined a number of green updates to its services, including changes to Google Maps, Flights, and Hotels as well as an upgrade to Google Business Profiles which allows to promote the recycling facilities they offer.

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