Very recently, The Guardian has come out with a detailed report showing how Google is involved in collaborating with organisations that are engaged in propagating climate change denial. Google has listed hundreds of groups, which include politically engaged trade associations and tax exempt groups, that receive the most substantial contributions from Google—reads Google’s website.
The fact is that among these organisations, there are more than a dozen such that have campaigned against climate legislation. Many of them are engaged in campaigning that climate change is not real and have actively sought reversal of environmental protections that were in place during the Obama era.
From example, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has been included in Google’s list of beneficiaries. CEI is known to be a conservative policy group and has been reported to have campaigned denying the seriousness of global warming. According to The Guardian report, CEI was also instrumental in convincing the Trump administration to exit the Paris Agreement. CEI is also a part of the State Policy Network (SPN), the US-based umbrella organisation.
Apparently, Google will also be a sponsor for an upcoming annual meeting of SPN. The involvement of SPN in supporting conservative groups is also known. Take the case of Heartland Institute, the Chicago-based free market think tank. Heartland Institute was found to be involved in campaigns to discredit climate science. It spent lakhs of dollars in spreading message in schools that climate change is controversial and uncertain. In July this year, Heartland Institute’s 13th International Conference on Climate Change at US was reported to have trumpeted climate change denial. Heartland Institute also chided Greta Thunberg for “climate delusion hysterics”.
SPN members have recently created a website named Climate Pledge. A visit to the website reveals clearly what it stands for and what it wants to campaign for. The website negates the climate models’ analysis of the man-made climate change. It also goes against the renewable sources of energy generation. Climate Pledge also declares, falsely though, that natural environment is getting better.
Google has defended its tie ups and contributions to organizations like CEI saying that its collaboration with the likes of CEI does not mean it endorses the organisations’ entire agenda. A spokesperson for Google said it sponsored organisations from across the political spectrum that advocate for “strong technology policies”.
The Climate Change Denial Movement beyond Google
Back in 2013, a Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle conducted a study that elaborately analysed the financial structure that was fueling the climate change denial movement. In his research, it was revealed that 91 think tanks and advocacy organisations and trade associations, mostly based in USA, invest approximately a billion dollars for campaigning against climate science. The main task they would do is to lobby or create public opinion on climate change and other issues.
“The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires, often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change. Such financial support has hardened conservative opposition to climate policy, ultimately dooming any chances of action from Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, the study found,” said The Guardian.
Robert Brulle called it ‘Climate Change Counter Movement (CCCM)’. According to him, it is indeed a large-scale political effort. Brulle’s study was published in the high impact journal Climatic Change published by Springer.
Put together, it becomes evident that climate change denial campaigns and efforts to mobilise public opinion in its favour is still on. Organisations, under the guise of conducting research, awareness etc. are, in actuality, propagating the idea that there is no man-made climate change and the world doesn’t have to worry about it. In a situation where the polar ice sheets are depleting sharply, sea level is rising rapidly, food stocks and agriculture are at stake—all due to global warming—and in a situation where efforts are being made to curb the global carbon emission level, the climate denial activities will be something to fight back.