Google will no longer pay lobbyists that deny climate change, pledges zero emissions by 2025

Google parent Alphabet will cut ties with lobbyists and think tanks that deny accelerating man-made climate change, reacting in part to the global toll of the COVID-19 pandemic and heeding repeat complaints from employees and environmental activists.

The search giant also announced plans to operate with zero emissions by 2025 and other initiatives.

Late last year, more than 1,000 Google workers signed a public letter calling on their employer to commit to an aggressive “company-wide climate plan” that includes canceling contracts with the fossil fuel industry and halting its donations to climate-change deniers. That letter had urged neutral emissions by 2030.

“Over the past few weeks, the world has come to a halt, our health-care systems have been overwhelmed and countless people are experiencing food and housing insecurity. This crisis has caused Google to reflect on how critical it is to respond to another global emergency: climate change,” wrote CEO Sundar Pichal, in a posting on the search giant’s site GOOGL, -5.15% “Today, we would like to announce a small step in that direction: we will stop our funding of organizations that deny or work to block action on climate change, effective immediately.”

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Google listed the groups and their climate action or inaction at issue.

Google will no longer funnel lobbyist money to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which urged President Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate accord. The Trump administration has charged noncompliance by other nations including China and India with its decision to pull out.

The Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action have called carbon dioxide something “insidious and ridiculous to regulate,” and was also a main driver behind the withdrawal from the Paris pact. The American Enterprise Institute has called the climate crisis an “antihuman worldview.” The Cato Institute has urged a slower response to the climate issue.

Google will also Americans for Tax Reform, the American Conservative Union, the regulation-lite Mercatus Center and the State Policy Network, launched by the American Legislative Exchange Council (which Google had already parted ways with in 2014) and the Heartland Institute. The latter has called for eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency and withholding funding of the renewable energy sector.

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Google said it was apologizing employees, shareholders, customers and users for what critics had said was an often disingenuous stance on climate change, promoting issues such as Earth Day and in-house green initiatives, while keeping the money flowing to pro-business entities that many feel have a questionable record on environmental policy.

“We apologize for putting profit over the planet by funding climate change deniers; we apologize for stalling to take actions, even after our funding was brought to light; [and] we apologize for taking no responsibility over our sponsored parties’ agenda,” the company said.

In addition to its zero-emissions aim by 2025, Google pledges zero contracts with organizations that enable or accelerate the extraction of fossil fuels CL00, +3.79% . And it will shun collaboration with entities enabling the incarceration, surveillance, displacement, or oppression of refugees or frontline communities, many of whose lives have already been destroyed by climate change-related conflict or drought.

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Alphabet shares are down 17% in the year to date and down nearly 9% over the past year. The S&P 500 SPX, -4.41% is down 23% in the year to date and down 14% over the past year.