This is a brilliant idea.

Why are we moving to electric vehicles? Why are some automakers investing in hydrogen power? Why is Porsche developing synthetic fuels? It all boils down to the same reason – catastrophic climate change. Global warming is caused, in part, by carbon emissions, so each of these methods – EVs, fuel cell vehicles, and clean fuels – is aimed at reducing those emissions. To combat climate change, all areas of a car's existence must be addressed, and while zero-emissions vehicles and other advances help, we need to do more. To that end, Google Maps is pioneering a new way of helping save the planet, and all it takes to get on board is to follow the prompts. Allow us to explain.

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Google Maps will be offering a feature that allows drivers to select the lowest possible carbon route for their chosen journey. This will launch in the US on Wednesday, October 13, with Europe to follow sometime next year. The system will look at factors like traffic and the inclines on a chosen road to select the one that will have the smallest impact on the planet. Of course, sometimes you're in a hurry and just need to get to where you're going as quickly as possible, and the option of choosing the fastest route isn't disappearing. But when the journey times are broadly the same, Google Maps will default to the lowest carbon option.

As a side note, this will help the individual too, as less fuel, whether it be fossil or electric, will be used on the journey.

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This is all part of a broader plan that Google is implementing as it looks to reduce its own environmental impact as well as that of its users. In keeping with that, Google will make it easier for online shoppers to find hybrid and electric options and compare them against their traditionally-powered counterparts. Google's airline fares search engine, Google Flights, will also now be able to show the carbon emissions per seat for each flight, along with options that may produce less carbon. In fact, everything from hotel searches to shopping for energy-intensive devices like dishwashers and water heaters will aim to steer Google users towards the most sustainable option available.

The initiatives are fantastic but they do reveal an ugly truth: cars are not the only contributors to climate change, and we need to address every aspect of human life if our grandchildren are to survive. Self-righteous proclamations from the comfy seat of your Tesla are simply not enough.

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