July 19, 2024

Today — on Earth Day — non-profit search engine Ecosia has launched the “greenest browser on Earth” as it seeks to offer customers a more sustainable alternative to Google Chrome or Apple’s Safari. 

Just like Ecosia’s search engine, the more you use the browser, the more trees you will help plant. The Berlin-based company says it has already planted 200 million trees since 2009. 

The new browser will be powered by renewable energy from Ecosia’s own solar farms.  In fact, the company says the browser will actually generate green energy — 25Wh per user each day they browse. That’s enough to power a lightbulb for 3 hours. This may not seem like much,, but it’ll add up if Ecosia’s 20 million existing search engine customers start using the browser too. 

Ecosia’s browser has been optimised for speed. It claims that loading pages is up to three times faster than most mainstream browsers. This is thanks to an inbuilt ad-blocker that reduces user data and energy consumption. 

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Michael Metcalf, Ecosia’s chief product officer, told TNW  that the company wanted to create a browser that wasn’t only more sustainable, but also competitive.

“Ecosia is in building mode, and we’re confident our product has never been stronger when it comes to user experience,” Metcalf said.

As of March 2024, Google Chrome and Safari had 65% and 19% of browser market share respectively. Microsoft Edge comes in third place with 5%, while Firefox — which in 2011, took 30% of the browser market — now only has 2.8%.

With the dominance of Chrome and Safari, changing consumers’ browsing habits is no easy feat. However, the EU’s recent Digital Markets Act, which in March, may help level the playing field. 

“We welcome recent moves like the DMA,” said Ecosia CEO and founder Christian Kroll. “Our browser is also another way for them to become more independent from big tech.” 

“We look forward to seeing how it’s received as we continue to broaden our climate commitments across reforestation, green investments, and advocacy.” 

Built on Google’s open-source platform Chromium, the browser will be familiar to anyone who already uses Chrome. This includes customisable browsing and security features like password management and SSL encryption. 

Users will have access to Ecosia’s existing features, such as its green leaf icon, climate pledge rating, and newly launched AI Chat, powered by OpenAI. The chatbot generates “greener answers,” directing users to sustainable solutions. 

The browser also contains a “sponsored links” feature, where users can shop online, while supporting Ecosia’s climate action projects at no extra cost. This will create a new revenue stream for the company which previously made all of its money via ad revenue.

Ecosia claims all of its profits go directly to tree-planting projects across the world. And now, with the new browser, to clean energy generation. 

In 2018, Ecosia gave away its shares to the Purpose Foundation, to assure that it can never be sold and that no one, including the founder, can profit or receive dividends from the company.

The Ecosia browser is now available for desktop on Mac and Windows via a download page, and for mobile via Android and iOS app stores.

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