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ENVIRONMENT

Google Gives Big Donations To Climate Denialism Groups

A Google sign from their campus in Mountain View, California.
A Google sign from their campus in Mountain View, California. (Photo: Brianv, Flickr)

“We’re hardly alone among companies that contribute to organizations while strongly disagreeing with them on climate policy” – Google spokesperson.

The Guardian’s new “Polluters” series, dedicated to uncovering the structures driving the climate crisis, revealed on Friday that Google has made “substantial contributions” to some of the most strident climate change denialism organizations in the world, despite its official stance supporting climate action.

The Guardian notes that the tech company gives to “more than a dozen organizations that have campaigned against climate legislation, questioned the need for action, or actively sought to roll back Obama-era environmental protections.” The list includes the Competitive Enterprise Institute, one of the most influential organizations in convincing Trump to abandon the Paris Agreement.

Critics were unsympathetic to Google’s defense that its “collaborations” do “not mean we endorse the organizations’ entire agenda”.

“You don’t get a pass on it. It ought to be disqualifying to support what is primarily a phony climate denying front group. It ought to be unacceptable given how wicked they have been,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asserted. “What all of corporate America should be doing is saying if you are a trade organisation or lobby group and you are interfering on climate, we are out. Period.”

The Guardian’s further scolded the tech giant for boasting of its commitment to transparency, yet refusing to disclose how much it donates beyond calling its contributions “substantial.”

“We’re hardly alone among companies that contribute to organizations while strongly disagreeing with them on climate policy,” a Google spokesperson argued in a statement to the Guardian.

Google’s “everybody else is doing it” excuse is supported by the tremendous efforts of too-big-to-fail banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, who pay lip-service to climate action while investing hundreds of billions in new fossil fuel infrastructure, to expedite environmental destruction. Similarly, fellow big-tech titan Facebook sponsors the annual meeting of the State Policy Network, a network of right-wing think tanks and tax-exempt organizations.

The State Policy Network supports anti-science organizations like the Koch-funded Heartland Institute, which includes the egregious lie on its webpage that, “Most scientists do not believe human greenhouse gas emissions are a proven threat to the environment or to human well-being.”

Prominent environmental activist and 350.org cofounder Bill McKibben described Google as typical of corporations that seek an eco-friendly brand while prioritizing short-term profits above all else.

“Sometimes I’ll talk to companies and they will be going on and on about their renewable server farm or natural gas delivery, and I say thank you, but what we really need is for your lobbying shop in Washington to put serious muscle behind it,” McKibben told the Guardian. “And they never do.”

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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