Google announced a new feature that will allow you to buy train tickets through search in select countries, including Japan, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The company says this could make it easier for users to choose more emission-conscious travel options when booking travel.
According to Google, simply searching two destinations, such as “Berlin to Vienna trains,” 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 website to buy your ticket.
Google is also rolling out a new search tool that will allow you to narrow down flight and hotel options that have lower carbon emissions. When searching for flights, users have the option of selecting “low emissions only” and showing flights in the order of emission amount.
When searching for hotels, users can select an “eco-certified” filter. Hotels that fall under 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 results shown to searchers. Google says that when looking into the environmental impacts of these hotels, the agencies are looking 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 search for flights and hotels since 2011, Google first introduced carbon emission tracking in 2021 when it rolled out features meant to help users track and shrink their carbon footprints when searching on the platform. This includes providing fuel-efficient driving routes in Maps, as well as offering information about the carbon emissions associated with flights. The company recently expanded eco-friendly navigation to Europe, too.
Even with the rollout of sustainable features, the company was accused of covering up the potential impact of flight emissions when making adjustments to the way it calculates these numbers. When these features were introduced last year, The Verge’s environmental reporter Justine Calma pointed out that environmental advocates said that companies tend to shift responsibility to customers without giving much thought to how the company can reduce its own carbon footprint.
Google says that the new features will expand to more locations in the “near future” and will eventually include bus routes.
Correction September 20 6:20 PM ET: A previous version of the story stated that users have been able to search for flight and hotel information since 2018. This feature has been available since 2011, and was upgraded with additional capabilities on mobile devices in 2018. We regret the error.