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Stop Google from Hiding its Impact on Water Scarcity as a “Trade Secret”

Alphabet is a collection of companies, the largest of which is Alphabet’s flagship subsidiary, Google. Google has dominated the worldwide search engine market since its inception in 1998, but you may not realise the secret cost of Google’s data centres - billions of gallons of water to cool the company’s servers. Despite its large-scale water usage, Google offers no recent reporting on its total enterprise-wide water use, nor does it disclose annual water use or other risk metrics by location. In fact, Google states that its local water use information, and its water use agreements with local governments, are trade secrets. Considering Google is the largest and most frequently used search engine worldwide, maintaining a 92.47 percent market share as of June 2021, its impact on water scarcity cannot be ignored.
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Our Goal

Our goal is to support As You Sow’s proposal to Alphabet, Google’s parent company, by launching a campaign that allows individuals to invest in a more sustainable future and hold Google accountable for its contribution to global water scarcity by voting at the company’s next shareholder meeting. The proposal requests that Google annually report quantitative water-related metrics by location, including data centres, and for each location, practices implemented to reduce climate-related water risk. A “win” would result in Google being required to issue those annual reports evaluating and disclosing the above-referenced quantitative water-related metrics by location, including for data centres, along with: any location-specific water reduction targets and annual progress in achieving them, location-specific risk assessments and water scarcity planning, any integration of water and company governance mechanisms, and any compensation incentives related to water use reductions. Under the SEC’s new guidance, Google should no longer be able to classify its water usage as a “trade secret” considering that straining local water supplies and contributing to water scarcity is a significant social policy issue that transcends the company’s ordinary business.

Why It’s Important

Climate change is expected to exacerbate water shortages globally. NASA, using an array of satellites, has observed a distinctive pattern of the wet land areas of the world getting wetter and the dry areas in between getting dryer, increasing regional droughts, and resulting in hotspots of groundwater depletion.

Increasing drought and water scarcity poses an outsize risk to Google, whose data centres require substantial amounts of water for cooling. Google will be affected by water scarcity in ways that may not seem obvious now – not only does the high-tech industry depend heavily on water, but also the food and beverage sector, power generation, mining, and pulp and paper all depend on water and are thus directly exposed to water scarcity; water is vital to industry whether it is used directly or indirectly for cooling or heating, transport, cleaning, and much more; and in addition to industrial needs, communities also have a high demand for household water. In light of these facts, Google faces risks due to competition for water resources by local communities, in addition to other companies or industries.

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How Tulipshare works
We identify opportunities for ethical change at public companies
These opportunities are identified through our own research analysts and the community we’ve built at Tulipshare. We then work with our legal team to verify and build our campaign.
We work to acquire company shares so that we can engage as an investor
Unfortunately, there’s a minimum investment threshold to be able to vote and propose changes at public companies. That’s why we created Tulipshare - so that we can unify the investing power of like-minded individuals to drive change from within.
We leverage the collective shares of our investor community
Once we acquire enough shares, we start discussions with the company to promote ethical change. This isn’t always easy and the company may object to our requests. However we keep our investors informed of progress and all communications - so you’re aware of what’s happening every step of the way.
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Alphabet, Inc.
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