Google Playing Both Sides? Tech Giant Accused Of Making Large Donations To Climate Change Denying Think Tanks

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Google has been accused of making "substantial" donations to at least a dozen Washington-based think tanks that deny climate change and are actively campaigning against stricter climate legislation.

This is in stark contrast to Google CEO Sundar Pichai who has taken a public pledge to take urgent action against the climate crisis.

According to a report in The Guardian, Google contributed heavily to conservative groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the American Conservative Union that are in support of regulatory efforts that benefit tech companies.

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The CEI is a strong proponent of the idea that climate change is a myth. In the past, the group has taken tough stances in opposition to tech regulation and antitrust enforcement.

According to reports, Google is "trying to appease conservatives so it can retain important protections under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that protects Google from being responsible for third-parties".

A company spokesperson said that it might not endorse every policy position of an organisation when it makes a contribution.

"We're hardly alone among companies that contribute to organisations while strongly disagreeing with them on climate policy," a Google spokesperson told The Verge.

Pichai last month announced the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history – made up of a 1,600-megawatt (MW) package of agreements that includes 18 new energy deals.

"These deals will increase our worldwide portfolio of wind and solar agreements by more than 40 per cent, to 5,500 MW equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops," Pichai said in a statement.

"Once all these projects come online, our carbon-free energy portfolio will produce more electricity than places like Washington D.C. or entire countries like Lithuania or Uruguay use each year," he added.

The announcement came as hundreds of Google employees participated in the "Global Climate Strike" during the United Nation's climate summit on 23 September.

In a blog post, the Google Workers for Action on Climate group highlighted some of the funding that the company was involved with that contradicted its public stance on climate change.

"Google Cloud makes significant revenue licensing infrastructure, machine learning, and engineering talent to fossil fuel companies, promising to help them extract fuel reserves faster," the group said.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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