Quantcast

Google Employees Demand Climate Action in Open Letter

Business
Google employees arrive after bicycling to work at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California on May 14, 2015. Brooks Kraft LLC / Corbis via Getty Images

Google employees fed up with the company's financial support for conservative groups that deny the climate crisis wrote an open letter that demands the tech giant address specific concerns about carbon emissions and political lobbying, as CNET reported.



The open letter published Monday on Medium was addressed to Ruth Porat, Google's chief financial officer, and read "We, the undersigned Google workers, in accordance with the gravity and urgency of the global climate crisis and its disproportionate harm to marginalized people, call on Google to commit to and release a company-wide climate plan."

The employees make four specific demands: zero emissions by 2030, an immediate stop to all lobbyists, think tanks and politicians who deny the climate crisis, no new contracts that support, enable, or accelerate the extraction of fossil fuels, and no collaboration with people or organizations enabling "incarceration, surveillance, displacement, or oppression of refugees or frontline communities," according to the letter, as CNN reported.

The letter noted that last year, Google donated to 111 members of Congress who voted against climate action at least 90 percent of the time.

"Google is a global company with billions of users across the world, many of whom are already bearing the brunt of climate disaster," the letter says. "Google's code of conduct requires respect for users and for opportunities."

More than 1,100 Google employees signed the letter, which adds to the pressure put on the tech company by the many workers who joined the global strike in September. Google has claimed that it is a carbon-neutral company, which it achieves by purchasing carbon-offsets.

In fact, Google's own environmental report for this year says the company put 1.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere last year. It covers those emissions with offset programs.

However, the idea of carbon-credit purchases rankles critics who argue that buying offsets out of environmental guilt does not address the root of the problem. Those critics argue that tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Apple need to reduce emissions drastically and stop funding climate science deniers, according to Vox.

Google has made significant investments in wind and solar power — the largest corporate purchase of renewable energy was announced in September. That month, CEO Sundar Pichai said that a 2030 zero-emissions goal "doesn't seem unreasonable" to the Financial Times. Yet, he didn't commit to it, as Business Insider reported.

The letter was addressed to Porat because a climate change report put out by Google's parent company, Alphabet, said Porat has the "highest level of direct responsibility for climate change" with "visibility across all of the company's operations," according to CNN.

Porat did not immediately reply to the letter or issue a statement about it, but the company did point to a recent blog post from Porat about the company's sustainability efforts at the start of the UN Climate Summit. However, those commitments lose the moral high ground when they are coupled with sustained support for groups and politicians that deny climate science and fight against climate action.

"After I joined the Global Climate Strike and read the Amazon workers' demands, I realized the support I provide to the oil business puts CO2 in the atmosphere, the revenue I bring in is funding climate-denying politicians, and the growth I facilitate increases carbon-releasing energy production," David Newgas, a technical program manager for the Google Cloud Platform who signed the letter, told CNN Business. "It is very personal."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

This study found evidence of illegal hammerhead fins in 46 out of 46 sampling events in Hong Kong. NOAA / Teachers at Sea Program

By Jason Bittel

Authorities in Hong Kong intercepted some questionable cargo three years ago — a rather large shipment of shark fins that had originated in Panama. Shark fins are a hot commodity among some Asian communities for their use in soup, and most species are legally consumed in Hong Kong, but certain species are banned from international trade due to their extinction risk. And wouldn't you know it: this confiscated shipment contained nearly a ton of illegal hammerhead fins.

Read More Show Less
A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

More than 350 koalas may have died in the wildfires raging near the Australian town of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, but one got a chance at survival after a woman risked her life to carry him to safety.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Heat waves emanate from the exhaust pipe of a city transit bus as it passes an American flag hung on the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice on April 25, 2013. David McNew / Getty Images

Air pollution rules aren't doing enough to protect Americans, finds a major new study that examined the cause of death for 4.5 million veterans, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Coldplay playing at Stade de France in Paris in July 2017. Raph_PH / Wikipedia / CC BY 2.0

Coldplay is releasing a new album on Friday, but the release will not be followed by a world tour.

Read More Show Less
Ash dieback is seen infecting a European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in Bottomcraig, Scotland, UK on Aug. 10, 2016. nz_willowherb / Flickr

Scientists have discovered a genetic basis to resistance against ash tree dieback, a devastating fungal infection that is predicted to kill over half of the ash trees in the region, and it could open up new possibilities to save the species.

Read More Show Less