Google has announced a new feature that will let you buy train tickets via search in select countries, including Japan, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The company says this could make it easier for users to choose more emissions-conscious travel options when booking a trip.
According to Google, simply searching for two destinations, such as “trains from Berlin to Vienna”, will give you access to various listings in a Google search. From there, you can click on a direct link that will take you to the partner’s site to purchase your ticket.
Google is also rolling out a new search tool that will allow you to narrow down options for flights and hotels that emit less carbon. When searching for flights, users have the option to select “low emissions only” and display flights in order of the amount of emissions.
When searching for hotels, users can select an “eco-certified” filter. Hotels that fall into this category are verified by outside organizations, such as the US Green Building Council and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, to “improve” the accuracy of the results presented to internet users. Google says that when reviewing the environmental impacts of these hotels, the agencies look at things like energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction and sustainable sourcing. Google also noted that it does not verify the certification status of each hotel.
While users have been able to book flights and hotels since 2018, Google first introduced carbon emissions tracking in 2021 when it rolled out features to help users track and reduce their carbon footprint during of their research on the platform. This includes providing fuel-efficient driving directions in Maps, as well as information on carbon emissions associated with flights. The company recently extended eco-navigation to Europe as well.
Even with the rollout of sustainable features, the company has been accused of concealing the potential impact of flight emissions when making adjustments to how it calculates these numbers. When these features were introduced last year, The edgeEnvironmental journalist Justine Calma pointed out that environmental advocates have said that companies tend to shift responsibility to customers without thinking too much about how the company can reduce its own carbon footprint.
Google says the new features will expand to more locations in the “near future” and possibly include bus routes.