From wildfires in Canada to flooding in India, people across the world are dealing with the realities of climate change. The world recorded its highest temperatures ever this summer and the climate models for 2100 make sobering reading.

To tackle climate change we need a data-driven approach, using technology to help decarbonize the sectors that contribute to it. The transportation sector is the largest contributor to climate change in the US and Europe. Simply put, travel is in need of a long-overdue update. The good news is that, in 2024, we will kickstart that much needed moment for green mobility.
The International Energy Agency estimates 55 percent of the reductions needed to cut all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 are linked to everyday consumer choices, particularly driving.
Over two-thirds of consumers cite the lack of electric charging stations as the biggest barrier to buying electric vehicles (EVs). However, new legislation, such as the European Green Deal and universal EV charging standards in the US, will help to put new chargers on the road.

The infrastructure is growing, but the information is still catching up. That’s why, to empower drivers with the information they need, Google has updated its Search experience to make it easier to research the costs and incentives associated with EVs. Google Maps also shows nearby EV chargers and offers eco-friendly routing—providing directions optimized for fuel or battery efficiency. In 2024, drivers will not only be able to more easily purchase an electric vehicle, they will be able to more easily charge them. The theory is simple: When billions of people have the tools to make more informed decisions, meaningful change is possible.

The impact of individuals grows exponentially when coupled with systemic investments by government officials and business leaders. We all know the feeling of impatience when waiting for the light to turn green. It’s not just an inconvenience, it’s bad for the environment—US Department of Energy data suggests that eliminating idling vehicles is equivalent to taking 5 million cars off American roads. In partnership with local governments, Google (where I am the chief sustainability officer) recently expanded Project Green Light—which leverages AI to improve traffic light efficiency—to 12 cities around the world. Early results show there’s potential to reduce the number of vehicle stops by up to 30 percent, lowering emissions for up to 30 million car trips monthly.
Yet, we cannot focus exclusively on cars—providing sustainable public transport is also vital. Nowhere is the value clearer than in Japan, a leader in high-speed rail. One passenger traveling between Tokyo and Osaka emits 4.2 kilograms of carbon dioxide—one-twelfth the emissions of a passenger on a Tokyo-Osaka flight. That’s why it’s so important for people to have information on alternative, climate-friendly modes of transport at their fingertips—including comparable train routes, biking, and walking suggestions. This also illustrates the potential impact of projects like the Brightline train, designed to connect Los Angeles and Las Vegas by electric, high-speed rail.

Along with opportunities on roads and rails, in 2024 we will make progress on our skies. Aviation is responsible for 3.5 percent of global warming—35 percent of which is non-emissions related. The culprit? Contrails—the feathery white trails created by airplanes. They may look harmless, but they trap heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere. Using AI-based technology, Google partnered with American Airlines and Breakthrough Energy to reduce contrails by 54 percent—achieving the first proof point of verifiable and cost-effective contrail avoidance. Delta Airlines, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and others are also working to tackle the issue. In 2024, clean mobility will move closer to the norm across transportation, not the exception.

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