Over 1,000 employees at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company have signed an open letter asking the firm to disclose how much carbon their clients emit into the atmosphere.
"The climate crisis is the defining issue of our generation," the letter said, according to The New York Times. "Our positive impact in other realms will mean nothing if we do not act as our clients alter the earth irrevocably."
The letter was written last spring but had not yet been reported. Since then, some of the letter's authors, who are consultants at McKinsey, have resigned from the company which is considered the world's most influential consulting firm, the Times reported.
Lawsuits, internal documents and interviews with four ex-McKinsey employees showed that McKinsey has advised at least 43 of the world's top 100 polluters in the past 50 years, per the Times.
The investigation by the Times found that those clients alone, excluding some of McKinsey's other clients who also contribute to pollution, accounted for over one-third of global carbon emissions in 2018.
At least one consultant who resigned specifically cited McKinsey's work with fossil fuel companies as his main reason for leaving. The Environmental Protection Agency has noted that "burning fossil fuels changes the climate more than any other human activity."
“Walking away from these sectors might appease absolutist critics,” D.J. Carella, a spokesman for McKinsey, said to the Times, adding that it "would do nothing to solve the climate challenge."
As part of its 2020 Social Responsibility Report, the firm's website says it is dedicated to "protecting the planet," but reporting from the Times indicated that McKinsey's larger environmental issues are related to the clients they advise.
"We turned our environmental insights into action, charting a path to a net-zero future for our firm and expanding our capabilities to support clients on their sustainability journeys," the website also says.
Recent polling has indicated that 60 percent of Americans view oil and gas companies as "completely or mostly responsible" for global warming and believe those companies should bear some financial responsibility for their impact.
The Hill has reached out to McKinsey for comment.