A new report from The Guardian outlines Google’s “substantial contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers in Washington despite its insistence that it supports political action on the climate crisis.” The full list of groups that receive substantial contributions from Google is available on their website.
Included in this list is the CATO institute, founded by Charles Koch, which routinely opposes climate action. Another recipient is the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a group that helped convince the Trump Administration to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. CEI’s policy director was on the 2016 presidential transition team and has criticized the administration for not cutting climate protections enough.
Google is listed as a sponsor for the State Policy Network (SPN) which has called Greta Thunberg’s climate activism delusional. SPN believes the “natural environment is getting better” and that “there is no climate crisis.” Backed by the fossil fuel industry, other climate denial groups that Google contributes to include the American Conservative Union, American Enterprise Institute, and Americans for Tax Reform.
The Guardian reached out to Google for comment and they stated that their collaboration with such organizations does not mean they endorse the organizations’ entire agenda. A spokesperson for Google said they were “hardly alone” among other tech companies that donate to groups despite disagreeing with them on climate policy.
Google has operated on 100% renewable energy for two years in a row, was a major proponent of the Paris Climate Agreement, and has sponsored local climate action summits. When you follow the money though, they seem to have differing agendas publicly and privately. Industry analysts have called it “greenwashing” for portraying an image of climate action yet donating in opposition behind the scenes.
Google is generally transparent in their political action and donates to groups across the political spectrum. One explanation is that donating to climate denial groups may be part of Google’s effort to win over conservative law makers in an effort to stop potential government regulation of the technology industry.