Story at a glance

  • A public letter signed by more than 1,000 Google workers calls for the adoption of a company-wide climate change action plan.
  • Requests include achieving net zero emissions by 2030, ceasing donations to politicians and organizations working to slow progress in the fight against climate change and cancelling contracts with the fossil fuel industry.

If more than 1,000 Google employees get their way the tech company will have zero carbon emissions by 2030 and adopt an aggressive climate action plan. 

The tech workers have all signed a public letter addressed to Google’s chief financial officer, Ruth Porat. The letter contained a variety of requests including the cancellation of the company’s contracts with the fossil fuel industry and cessation of any donations to climate change deniers. Further demands touched on themes that weren’t climate related, such as, “zero collaboration with entities enabling the incarceration, surveillance, displacement or oppression of refugees or frontline communities.”

Workers at companies like Amazon, Microsoft and the tech industry at large have started flexing their collective muscle and asking their employers for change. Many participated in the global climate strike on Sept. 20.  

The specificity of many of the requests can be traced to particular news stories detailing Google’s business practices.

According to reporting from the Guardian, the company donated to more than 12 organizations working to stymie action on climate change or to reverse existing environmental regulations. 

Another letter by Google workers published at the time of the global climate strike states: “In 2018 the company funded 111 members of Congress who voted against climate legislation at least 90 percent of the time.”

The request that the tech company stop working with the fossil fuel industry likely concerns the cloud computing and data analysis it provides for the oil and gas industry, as reported by Gizmodo.

“I can’t feel good about my job if the profits I help generate and the codebases I contribute to can be leveraged to accelerate fossil fuel extraction or fund groups that delay or deny urgent climate action,” Sam Kern, a UX engineer at Google, told the Guardian. “It’s unacceptable for Google to build technologies that help oil and gas companies identify new reserves, accelerate extraction and prolong reliance on fossil fuels.”

Published on Nov 12, 2019