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NEW REPORT REVEALS TOP FIVE U.S. TECH FIRMS HAVE “NET ZERO” IMPACT
ON HISTORIC CLIMATE POLICY PROCESS

Sept 20, 2021

“Big Oil is Upping its Game on Capitol Hill While Big Tech Takes a Pass”


San Francisco, CA — According to an updated report from the think tank InfluenceMap, the pro-climate pledges of the top five tech firms (Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft) are still not backed up by strategic advocacy. In addition, the update finds, the
companies’ direct influence is being overshadowed by the highly strategic anti-climate advocacy of their trade associations.

“With potentially historic climate legislation being debated in Congress, you might expect to seeBig Tech step up its influencing activity,” said InfluenceMap Executive Director Dylan Tanner. “Instead, only 6 percent of their collective activity thus far in 2021 has been focused on climate,
virtually unchanged from our 4 percent finding in the January 2021 report on last year’s activity. Three Big Tech companies (Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft) actually saw their influencing intensity scores drop.”

The report is an update to InfluenceMap’s January 2021 study, Big Tech and Climate Policy, the first in-depth examination of the tech giants’ lobbying efforts on the climate issue.

“Amid a fierce battle for the budget reconciliation bill — a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the destructive threat of climate change — Big Tech’s impact on climate advocacy is ‘net zero’,” said former Google and Facebook sustainability executive Bill Weihl, who started ClimateVoice to urge companies to advocate for climate. “This is a historic turning point, and we are calling on Tech employees to urge their companies and CEOs to stand up for climate by publicly endorsing the budget reconciliation bill.”

A notable increase in activity on the part of Big Oil sharply contrasts with Tech’s continued inaction and points to a widening gap, according to the InfluenceMap update. “Over 50 percent of Big Oil’s lobbying activity was climate-focused,” said Kendra Haven, the study’s author, “a significant increase from 38 percent in the original report.”

“Big Oil is upping its game on Capitol HIll while Big Tech takes a pass,” notes Weihl. “We are actively working to get Big Tech into the climate policy fight, even in the 11th hour.” On September 15, Weihl sent a personal appeal to Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, urging the company to “step out in front of the whole Tech sector” on this issue.

ClimateVoice is a project of the Tides Center, a non-profit organization.

NEW 1in5 CAMPAIGN RALLIES TECH EMPLOYEES TO URGE TOP FIRMS TO RAMP UP LOBBYING IN HISTORIC FIGHT FOR “BOLD CLIMATE POLICY”

March 31, 2021


San Francisco, CA — Today ClimateVoice, a year-old non-profit project founded by former Google and Facebook sustainability leader Bill Weihl, launched a targeted campaign to rally the workforce at the five biggest US Tech firms (Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft) to join the historic battle for pro-climate policy in Washington DC. The 1in5 Campaign activates employees to urge these companies to use their powerful influence in the climate policy fight — specifically, spending one in five of their lobbying dollars in 2021 to keep global warming below the science-based target of 1.5°C.

 “Only Big Tech has the influence and power in Congress to counter the power of Big Oil,” says Weihl, a longtime Tech executive. “Tech employees are deeply concerned about climate, an existential threat to their lives. They’re proud of the leadership their companies have shown in decarbonizing their own operations - and now they expect their companies to show up for the climate policy battle that’s starting in Washington. Our campaign is designed to spur action.”  

Despite pro-climate actions in their own operations, these five Tech giants are devoting only 4 percent of their lobbying activity to climate, according to a recent report from InfluenceMap. “Big Tech companies are some of the most powerful businesses in the world,” says Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), one of the Senate’s leading climate champions. “We urgently need them to show up for this climate fight, and if they hear from enough employees, we hope they will.”

The 1in5 Campaign calls on companies to increase their lobbying spend on climate — because money is a clear metric that demonstrates commitment, and it will elevate climate to a top-tier lobbying priority. “Companies need to make climate a top lobbying priority. Their priorities are clear when you look at the resources they invest in an issue. But today, Tech is not putting their money and influence where their values are,” says Weihl. “With their multi-million dollar lobbying operations in DC, they can find the resources to go all-in on climate policy. We want to see them step up, and do it now.”

The 1in5 Campaign has multiple components designed to have a galvanizing impact on Tech employees: 

- “Let’s Be Climate Heroes,” a comic book-inspired digital ad campaign, will reach the Tech workforce, engaging them to sign the 1in5 petition to their company. The digital ad, developed by DC-based agency Well & Lighthouse, uses classic comic book imagery to summon Tech employees to become heroes in the looming climate policy battle. The ad will run on pre-roll, connected TV and social placements.

- A parallel social media campaign engaging Tech influencers, climate experts, and an organic network of supporters at each of the five companies who have already signed on to share content, reach out to colleagues, and build the campaign. 

- A dedicated website supporting the petition drive, an earned media effort to track the campaign’s growth, and an online “leaderboard” comparing total employee petitions at each of the five Tech companies.

 “This campaign offers Tech employees who are concerned about climate a specific action they can take,” said Bill Weihl. “1in5 provides thousands of climate-concerned individuals at these top firms the opportunity to get their companies off the sidelines in the upcoming climate debate. We will be watching, and we hope companies step up and use their influence to help enact the bold climate policy we need.”

ClimateVoice, founded in 2020, is a project of Tides Center.

Statement From ClimateVoice from ClimateVoice Founder Bill Weihl on Passage of Virginia Clean Energy Act (VCEA)

March 6, 2020


Bill Weihl, the former Facebook and Google sustainability czar who recently started ClimateVoice to mobilize the workforce to urge corporate advocacy of pro-climate policies like the Virginia Clean Energy Act (VCEA), issued this statement about the bill’s passage:

“ClimateVoice is excited to see Virginia move into the vanguard of states on climate policy. We want to thank companies signing a letter of support for their pro-climate efforts, and urge companies that stayed silent on this bill to speak up in the future and go #AllinOnClimate. Corporate sector leadership can be a game changer on climate policy battles, tipping the balance in favor of the rapid decarbonization we need.

VCEA will drive investments in clean, renewable energy, create thousands of clean jobs and get the state to the urgent goal of zero-carbon electricity by 2050. Now we look to other states, including Illinois, currently considering the even more accelerated Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would get the state to zero-carbon electricity by 2030 while creating new economic opportunities - and to regional efforts like the Transportation & Climate Initiative on the East Coast.”


Companies signing a letter of support:

            - Akamai Technologies
            - IKEA North America Services, LLC
            - Kaiser Permanente
            - Mars Incorporated
            - Nestle USA
            - Schneider Electric
            - Unilever
            - Worthen Industries

New Initiative to Mobilize Current and Future Workers to Urge Companies to take a Pro-Climate Policy Stand

Veteran sustainability leader at Google and Facebook to spearhead ClimateVoice

February 24, 2020


SAN FRANCISCO — A group of students, activists and executives, led by former Google and Facebook sustainability czar Bill Weihl, is launching ClimateVoice, a new initiative designed to mobilize the workforce to urge corporate advocacy of pro-climate public policies. Students preparing to enter the workforce and current employees will be invited to take the ClimateVoice Pledge, to leverage their influence to urge companies to go #AllinOnClimate. Those making the Pledge will get action updates and tools they can use to raise the climate issue with employers.

“America’s corporate sector has the power to disrupt climate change and put us on a path of steep carbon reductions,” said Weihl, who first revealed the effort at this weekend’s ClimateCAP conference in Virginia. “Many companies are doing great sustainability work in their operations, and some are speaking up -- but not enough of them, and not often enough. Silence is no longer an option. ClimateVoice is mobilizing the power of the workforce to activate companies to raise their voice in climate policy battles.”

ClimateVoice has the support of allies and advisors in the field. “Given the urgency of the climate crisis, companies need to use their resources -- financial, human, and political capital -- to advocate for and drive action.” said Andrew Winston, an expert on business, climate and sustainability strategy who has joined the ClimateVoice Advisory Board. “Students and workers are ready and willing to raise their voice for just and sustainable policies,” said Isha Tobis Clarke of the Bay Area-wide Youth vs Apocalypse, who has also joined the Advisory Board. “Today’s corporate sustainability leaders are thinking beyond their own operations and even their own supply chains, toward also being effective advocates for more aggressive public policies to address climate change,” said Michael Toffel, Senator John Heinz Professor of Environmental Management at Harvard University. “When CEOs advocate for policies across a host of societal issues, they are often guided by their workforce. I’m confident that the same can be true with climate change, and I think ClimateVoice’s initiatives will accelerate this.”

ClimateVoice has announced three policy focus areas for its launch. The Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) would make Virginia a leader on climate, and ClimateVoice is urging action before the close of the legislative session in March. In Illinois, ClimateVoice is calling on workers and companies to back the state’s pending Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). ClimateVoice will also focus on the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a regional effort aimed at reducing transportation emissions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Bill Weihl announced the launch of ClimateVoice at the ClimateCAP conference, in front of an audience of business students. Over the next few months, ClimateVoice will be engaging students and activists at a series of climate-related events across the country, with the next stops at the Social Impact Summit held at the University of Chicago on February 28 and the GoGreen conference in Seattle on April 9.

The long term goal of ClimateVoice is to enlist the active voices of hundreds and thousands of current and future employees, to persuade their companies to go #AllinOnClimate -- not just in their own business practices, but in the policy arena. “Unleashing the muscle of the corporate sector will be a climate game changer, tipping the balance on policy battles that are now stacked in favor of polluting industries,” Weihl said. “We invite all current and future employees to visit us at climatevoice.org and take the ClimateVoice Pledge.”

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ClimateVoice is a project of Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.