News Highlights: New evidence that Big Tech is ‘MIA’ about climate policy
The Biden government links actions with words about climate – collecting the most impressive team of pro-climate experts, strategists and policy leaders ever, making the goal of fair climate policy a pinnacle priority of the legislative agenda for 2021 in Congress.
But tech industry leaders are failing to match their own pro-climate commitments with lobbying efforts, according to a new report from InfluenceMap. (Note: The author is a member of the InfluenceMap Advisory Board.) The report finds that Big Tech, the most powerful corporate voice for the climate, is usually lacking in action on Capitol Hill, just as this pressing issue approaches a policy showdown.
The new data shows that Big Tech’s track record of commitment to climate policy is so far negligible: across the board, InfluenceMap finds that “only 4 percent of Big Tech’s revealed lobby activity was dedicated to climate-related policies. This compares to an average of 38 percent for major oil companies. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Sheldon Whitehouse Democrats weigh growing lower courts after Trump blitz OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden signs series of orders to address climate change | Republicans press Granholm on fossil fuels during confirmation hearing Hawley files counter-complaint against seven Democratic senators. Tech has refused to lift a finger to encourage comprehensive climate action in Congress. “
Big Tech not showing business; we need all hands on deck for this climate battle. While Congress’s grand pandemic relief bill included some climate regulations Having won bipartisan support, no one expects all future pro-climate proposals to receive a kumbaya welcome. Even with a scary Democratic House and Senate, it won’t be easy to pass climate-friendly legislation – be it special reconciliation rules or traditional rules. It will take business support to get senators from both parties on it – and that’s where the challenge lies.
Big Oil will be girdled for battle in 2021. They heard the warning shot last fall in the debate from then-candidate Biden statement about making a ‘transition of the oil industry’. Despite President Trump Donald Trump Biden trying to freeze Trump at the last minute, freezing four billion programs, Trump announces new impeachment legal team after reported departure Republicans try to unite on their way to the next election cycle. Biden paid no real political price for calling for the downfall of oil. Yes, the fossil fuel industry’s new public relations strategy is to get its tune on climate story. But Big Oil still has the power Chamber of Commerce (does its own agility repositioning on climate to slowly switch from outright climate denial) to support them when deals are closed.
Which business sector is powerful and influential enough to counter Big Oil? The obvious answer is great Tech. With a historic confrontation about the climate looming, we need full throttle from the strongest, most vibrant business advocate of saving the planet – the tech sector. To their credit, Big Tech companies have made great strides in promoting sustainability in operations and take oral positions on the matter. It is now time for them to walk the walk about climate policy.
But whether they will or will not is an open question. Clearly, the leading tech companies’ public affairs teams have more scary concerns on their minds in Washington in 2021, such as Facebook’s great antitrust issues. As a former Big Tech executive, I know climate policy too often slips down the priority list. It’s zero hour on climate policy – we don’t have time to do nothing. If major climate legislation is not passed by 2021, it would be devastating to the future of the planet – not just our businesses, but our families and our very survival. We are now in a very narrow time window where our actions are still below global warming 1.5 degrees threshold recommended by science to avoid the most serious consequences. Now is the time for bold policy and for the whole team to join the fight.
With the fate of the climate at stake, if it’s big Tech stays out of this fight, they will lose credibility not only with the Biden government, but with their own pro-climate workers. While they try recruit idealistic students they will discover that these bright, savvy young tech workers expect to be firm on climate policy and environmental justice – and they are increasingly outspoken. Time is running out for Big Tech to act, deliver on their pro-climate promises and make their workforce proud. Let’s hope they do.
Bill Weihl is a former sustainability director at Google and Facebook. He is the founder and executive director of Climate Voice, a non-profit initiative.
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