Google and the other big tech companies are some of the most lavish funders of climate denial "think tanks" and lobbying groups, something they've been at continuously for more than six years, without interruption.
Google doesn't fund these lobbyists because they're climate deniers, nor because they're indifferent to climate change and its human costs.
Google funds these lobbyists and astroturf operations because they also lobby for lax tax enforcement, lax labor laws, lax privacy laws, and so on. The fact that these groups also lobby for the right of corporations to render our planet uninhabitable (as well as against the rights of LGBTQ people, against reproductive freedom for women, etc) is merely an acceptable cost of greasing the skids to allow Big Tech to seek profits at the expense of their workers, suppliers, customers and society.
The latest round of revelations about Google's contribution to climate deniers comes from Google's list of "politically-engaged trade associations, independent third-party organizations and other tax-exempt groups that receive the most substantial contributions from Google'sU.S. Government Affairs and Public Policy team."
It includes the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who claimed responsibility for getting Trump to pull out of the Paris Accord (CEI is also pro-monopoly, anti-Net Neutrality, pro-binding arbitration, anti-Obamacare, anti-Consumer Financial Protection Board, and fronts for the monopolists who dominate oil, tobacco, and alcohol).
Other recipients of "substantial contributions" from Google include the State Policy Network, who front for The Heartland Institute, a radical climate-science denial thinktank with major Koch funding. SPN's actively solicits signatures for a "climate pledge" that holds that "our natural environment is getting better…there is no climate crisis."
Google "substantially contributes" to the American Conservative Union (led by a Koch operative who takes credit for the climate gridlock in DC), the American Enterprise Institute (another prominent, lavish climate denial spender) and the Americans for Tax Reform whose radical anti-taxation agenda also includes condemnation of climate action as "corporate welfare."
Google funds the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Mercatus Center, and Heritage Action, all of whom have led on climate denial.
Google defends itself by saying that it only supports the CEI and SPN work that enriches Google's shareholders, and not the policies that doom us all to a horrible death when the only known planet capable of sustaining human life is rendered uninhabitable.
A Google spokesman also pointed out that other Big Tech companies send millions to these organizations, so when your house burns down in a wildfire or you die in a pandemic, the blame will not be Google's alone. Amazon will also be at fault, as will Microsoft and the other tech monopolists.
Bill McKibben, a prominent environmentalist who has been on the frontline of the climate crisis for decades, said Google and other companies were engaged in a "functional greenwashing" given the contradiction in their public pronouncements and private donations. He said Google and other technology companies had also not used their own lobbyists to advocate for change on climate.
"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. And they never do," McKibben said. "They want some tax break or some regulations switch and they never devote the slightest muscle behind the most important issue of our time or any time."
A spokesperson for Google said: "We've been extremely clear that Google's sponsorship doesn't mean that we endorse that organisation's entire agenda – we may disagree strongly on some issues.
"Our position on climate change is similarly clear. Since 2007, we have operated as a carbon neutral company and for the second year in a row, we reached 100% renewable energy for our global operations."
Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniers [Stephanie Kirchgaessner/The Guardian]
(Image: John Marino, CC BY-SA, modified)