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Published on September 30th, 2014 | by Jake Richardson


Google Quits Political Group That Opposed Climate Change Action

September 30th, 2014 by  

Even Google makes mistakes. The world leader in search recently announced it had made one in financially supporting a political group that is opposed to the US taking action on climate change. Google had been supporting one of the group’s  campaigns focused on an issue unrelated to climate change.


Google Chairman Eric Schmidt summarized the situation, “The people who oppose it are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. We should not be aligned with such people. They are just literally lying.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council is the group that Google has decided not to renew membership with at the end of the year. ALEC has toyed with the idea of an interstate research council to study potential benefits of climate change. Such a view would be very contrary to what most scientific research has found, such as devastation of natural habitats for many forms of life and the relocation of human settlements located in coastal areas. ALEC has also been involved in attempts to repeal renewable energy mandates for states.

ALEC’s chief executive officer said, “It is unfortunate to learn Google has ended its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council as a result of public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial.”

It’s sort of humorous that in its response, ALEC managed to blame ‘left-leaning individuals’ as if there are a number of fragmented leftist citizens that caused a huge corporation like Google with over 10,000 employees to sever its relationship with a conservative lobbying group that tries to deny climate change. Also, the statement says the end of the Google funding was due to organizations that confuse free market policy perspective with climate change denial, but climate change is primarily about science, not economic policy.

Of course, it has been well-documented that Google actively invests in renewable energy development. In fact, Google has publicly stated that it wants to eventually operate on 100% renewable energy, so it makes no sense for there to be any tie to a lobbying group that is very unaligned with its values.

Google has invested in over 15 renewable energy projects, operates data centers that utilize clean energy, and has some solar power at its Mountain View headquarters. About $1.5 billion dollars has been invested by Google so far in renewable energy projects.

In 2011, a group of Google science communication fellows also noticed their employer had been supportive of  a politician who was (like ALEC) a climate change denier, “Given Google’s commitment to educating the public about climate change, why would the company align its political efforts with [Senator James] Inhofe? In responding to criticism, a Google spokesperson acknowledged “while we disagree on climate change policy, we share an interest with Senator Inhofe in the employees and data center we have in Oklahoma.”

They signed and sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page and executive chairman Eric Schmidt.

Apparently, ALEC and Inhofe have some kind of relationship, because he is listed on the group’s website under Federal Relations Initiatives. According to Slate, ALEC has also received funding from the Koch brothers, which is hardly the company Google would probably like to be keeping, at least in a political sense.

Though this is a separate situation, it might be worth mentioning that Eric Schmidt has used his Google money to fund research in ocean conservation at the Schmidt Ocean Institute. Some of that research is focused on ocean acidification, which is linked with human-made atmospheric CO2 levels, “On the heels of the successful Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE, the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE aims to spur global innovators to develop accurate and affordable ocean pH sensors that will ultimately transform our understanding of ocean acidification, one of the gravest problems associated with the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).”

So, it somehow seems fitting that Schmidt is the one who made the statement about protecting our world for future generations from the effects of climate change.

Image Credit: Jijithecat, Wiki Commons

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  • Matthew Rose

    If “do no evil” was ever to be real corporate policy, this company should have never been part of ALEC

    • Bob_Wallace

      I don’t get the feeling that the guys at the top of Google are all that involved with paying attention to the details of how their company operates.

  • Marion Meads

    This is a good start, but Google continued to put money into the coffers of climate denying politicians as Google needs their votes as well. So the political support for climate deniers continues.

    “Behind the scenes, Google has donated $699,195 to the campaigns of climate deniers in the US Congress — politicians who are intent on blocking any legislation to address climate change. So far, we’ve heard nothing from Google about whether this will continue. One thing’s clear — Google’s newfound refusal to work with climate deniers isn’t in line with these donations.”

    Let us keep Google consistent also from behind the scenes:

  • Tom G.

    Way to go Google. Now maybe we can get down to the real issue and I don’t mean Climate Change or Global Warming. What I am talking about is “clean air to breathe and water to drink” for everyone on this planet.

    After all, isn’t that really what we are talking about? Is shouldn’t make any difference if you are a Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Conservative or Independent. Everyone should want or be able to enjoy “clean air to breathe and water to drink” don’t you think, LOL.

    Have a great day everyone.

  • JamesWimberley

    More significant is the announcement that Occidental Oil is also quitting ALEC (link). It’s an actual second-tier international oil company (market cap $77bn) that fights climate education and donates to Republicans. But it thinks ALEC has gone off the reservation and is objectively damaging oil interests by extremist positions and hopeless campaigns. I.e., the Kochs are going senile.

    • Offgridman

      That is good news, let’s hope they also see the financial sense of reinvesting some of those billions in renewable energy as some of the other fossil fuel interests are starting to do.

  • John Russell

    ALEC’s biggest problem is they treat a **purely theoretical** Free Market as if it were a reality when obviously it is purely theoretical and does not and never has existed in “Nature”

    For instance it is logically impossible to practice Free Trade with a Communist Country by the very definition of either or both terms …..

    Another thing they appear clueless about is the fact that Supply Side Economics FAILS when the Communists have most of the Supply and also FAILS in a Consumer Economy we have rather than a Manufacturing Economy we had in the 1980’s when it was conceived. And there was never really any solid evidence it works even in a Manufacturing Economy … It’s all purely theoretical

    • Ross

      So that puts them in denial of both what they’re for and what they’re against.

  • Offgridman

    It is about time. For several years I have wondered why a company that proclaims as one of its policies “to do no harm” would continue giving money to a climate change denying group that works to support the traditional utility model of centralized energy distribution.
    Did they think that by their involvement it would be possible to influence ALEC to change their position? Was there some other reason behind it?
    So no definitive statements as to whether why the involvement, or why the disconnect. Well let’s take it as a good sign that at least it has finally happened.

  • Rob G

    I would like to see google, with it’s large captive audience ‘educate’ the masses on climate change. This could be seen as righting the wrong that fossil fuel groups spout through various media that climate change is a hoax. Even if it was done in the form of ‘climate change prevention initiative of the week’ on it’s search page. Public awareness is vital and google are in the best position to help out.

  • Plantiful

    Good for Google for realising and acting upon that on how corrupting a force ALEC is on the Government of the United States of America: nothing but a group of corporations out to legislate themselves some increased profits, while destroying the representative democracy that the country used to have.

    Cheers for Google!

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