The big tech companies could easily have an impact on reducing our GHG emissions by providing better information to their users about the carbon impact of their choices. For example, take Amazon. Some of you may have seen this analysis of how Amazon's push for ever faster shipping is bad for the environment:
While the promise of fast shipping certainly is a draw for Amazon, but many consumers would be happy to choose more environmentally friendly shipping options if they were aware of the impact of their choices. Why doesn't Amazon help their users to make this choice? For example, even something as simple a putting a little leaf decorator on the shipping option with the lowest estimated carbon footprint would be better than what they currently have. For a much bigger impact (albeit one that requires a much more involved analysis) Amazon could attempt to estimate the carbon footprint of most popular products sold through them and inform consumers so they can choose more efficient alternatives.
Similarly, Apple & Google should be estimating GHG emissions for different routing options in their maps apps and informing their users. Ideally they would also change the default behaviors to reflect environmental impacts rather than just time spent on the road. For example, a route that takes one minute less by going a much longer distance on freeways probably has a worse carbon footprint than one that takes one mine longer on local roads.
All these companies would like us to think that they are taking climate change seriously, so their inaction on simple changes is puzzling. Now, obviously the changes I'm suggesting can't replace more critical and capital intensive changes that will eventually be necessary like electrifying delivery fleets and making sure data centers are run on entirely renewable energy. But the sort of changes I'm proposing seem pretty easy implement and may often even align with the profit motives companies themselves (e.g. the more environmentally shipping option will often be cheaper too). So why haven't they been implemented yet?
How can we pressure big tech to get their act together? A strong social media campaign seems like it might be enough to get action, but I don't have enough social capital to pull one off by myself. Let me know if you'd like help coordinate something or have thoughts about the impact of such an effort.