Wednesday, August 10

Pro-climate rhetoric from big tech doesn’t match political action, report says | Environment

The world’s largest tech companies are coming out with bold commitments to address their climate impact, but when it comes to using their corporate strength to advocate for stronger climate policies, their commitment is almost non-existent, according to a new report.

Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Facebook, and Microsoft dumped about $ 65 million in lobbying in 2020, but an average of just 6% of their lobbying activity between July 2020 and June 2021 was related to climate policy, according to an analysis from the thinktank InfluenceMap, which tracked corporate self-reported lobbying on federal legislation.

The report also sought to capture the overall commitment of technology companies to climate policy by analyzing activities, including their high-level communications, as well as lobbying on specific legislation. It found that the climate-related engagement levels of three of the five companies (Amazon, Alphabet, and Microsoft) had decreased compared to the previous year.

Tech companies, which have some of the deepest pockets of American corporations, have been rushing out with increasingly ambitious climate commitments. Amazon has a goal of being net zero by 2040 and boosting its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, and Facebook has a goal of net zero emissions for its entire supply chain by 2030.

In 2020, Microsoft pledged to become carbon negative by 2030 and by 2050 to have removed all the carbon the company has emitted. Apple is committed to becoming carbon neutral throughout its supply chain by 2030.

And Google is committed to boosting its operations with 100% carbon-free energy by 2030, without using renewable certificates to offset fossil-generated power. “The science is clear, we have until 2030 to chart a sustainable course for our planet or face the worst consequences of climate change,” Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in a video announcing politics.

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However, this strong pro-climate rhetoric is not accompanied by action at the policy level, according to the report. “These giant companies that completely dominate the stock market aren’t really deploying that political capital at all,” said InfluenceMap CEO Dylan Tanner.

Tech companies have not been completely silent. Apple, for example, has voiced support for the clean energy standard proposed by the Biden administration, which aims for all electricity generated in the United States to be renewable by 2035.

But these efforts are significantly outpaced by those of the big oil and gas companies, which have stepped up their climate lobbying over the same time frame, according to the report. “Most of their advocacy is dedicated to climate change and it’s negative,” Tanner said.

The lack of commitment is especially disappointing given the new momentum around climate action under the Biden administration, said Bill Weihl, a former Facebook and Google sustainability executive and now CEO of Climate Voice, which mobilizes tech workers to pressure your companies on climate action. “The dominant corporate voice on these issues is advocating against the kind of policies we need,” he said.

Joe Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, which includes large investments for climate action, faces fierce opposition from some industry groups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s most powerful business lobby, has said will do “everything possible to prevent this bill for reconciliation of tax increases and job deaths from becoming law.” All technology companies, with the exception of Apple, are members of the Chamber.

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“Our best chance to bring the planet to safety in the race against climate change is through this reconciliation bill, but InfluenceMap has shown that great technology is still MIA on climate in Congress,” said the Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat and longtime advocate. for climate legislation.

Microsoft and Apple declined to comment on the report, and Alphabet did not respond to requests for comment. An Amazon spokesperson said the company is committed locally, state and internationally to “actively advocate for policies that promote clean energy, increase access to renewable electricity and decarbonize the transportation system.”

A Facebook spokesperson said that “we are committed to fighting climate change and are taking substantial action without waiting for any legislative action,” adding that the company supports the goals of the Paris climate agreement and helped found the Alliance of Buyers of Renewable energy.

But these actions are not enough given the scale of the crisis, Tanner said. The UN warned in a report published on Friday that even if current climate emissions targets are met, the world is still on a “catastrophic track” for 2.7 ° C of heating by the end of the century. “We are running out of time,” Tanner said, “physically on the climate, but also on the public policy level.”

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