'Remember When Google's Thing Was DO NO EVIL?': Report Reveals How Internet Giant Funds Climate Villains

Google, whose unofficial company motto was once “Don’t be evil,” counts major deniers of the climate crisis among the groups “that receive the most substantial contributions” from the tech giant’s U.S. Government Affairs and Public Policy team.

“It ought to be disqualifying to support what is primarily a phony climate denying front group. It ought to be unacceptable given how wicked they have been.”
—Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

As part of a Guardian series on “the polluters,” the newspaper reported Friday on the biannually updated list (pdf) of “politically-engaged trade associations, independent third-party organizations, and other tax-exempt groups” that Google helps fund.

According to The Guardian:

CEI isn’t the only group that Google has funded which promotes unscientific takes on the climate, the newspaper noted:

Other organizations highlighted in the report for receiving money from Google include the American Conservative Union, the American Enterprise Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, the Cato Institute the Mercatus Center, the Heritage Foundation, and Heritage Action.

A Google spokesperson said the company contributes to groups that support “strong technology policies” and “we’re hardly alone among companies that contribute to organizations while strongly disagreeing with them on climate policy.”

“We’ve been extremely clear that Google’s sponsorship doesn’t mean that we endorse that organization’s entire agenda,” Google’s spokesperson added. “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 percent renewable energy for our global operations.”

Despite Google’s attempted defenses, climate experts and activists expressed frustration with the company’s decisions to give money to such groups.

Co-founder of the global advocacy group 350.org Bill McKibben accused Google and other funders of climate deniers of engaging in “functional greenwashing.”

“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,” McKibben told The Guardian. “And they never do.”