Could Google’s Carbon Emissions Have Effectively Doubled Overnight?

A new report suggests that the money Big Tech companies keep in the banking system can do more climate damage than the products they sell. Three nonprofit environmental groups jointly released a report that indicates that the world’s biggest companies—and, indeed, any company or individual with cash in the bank—have been inadvertently fueling the climate crisis. The report raises deep questions about the sanity of our financial system, but it also suggests a potential realignment of corporate players that could move decisively to change the balance of power which has so far thwarted rapid climate action. In recent months, the banks have increasingly been committing themselves to going “net zero by 2050;” forming large alliances of theoretically climate-concerned banks, insurers, and investors; and touting their lending to renewable-energy projects. But none of this has halted their commitments to longtime fossil-fuel clients. Last month, the United Nations released another report warning of the fast-spiraling climate crisis, which Secretary-General António Guterres prefaced by saying it is “moral and economic madness” to invest in new fossil-fuel projects. In the weeks following that warning, seven huge new oil and gas projects were approved around the world. In a world of widening inequality, companies such as Apple or Amazon have emerged as almost cartoonishly rich and hence uniquely powerful in their ability to force change. With the leverage provided by Big Tech pushing Big Money to cut off Big Oil, we could see the shifts that have eluded us in the climate fight thus far, and that scientists insist we need to make.

By Bill McKibben. The New Yorker. May 20, 2022.

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