According to a new analysis of Google ads that resemble search results, fossil fuel companies and their closest allies belong. the guard and climate think tank InfluenceMap.
The two groups searched Google for 78 terms related to climate change and then looked at the ads that appeared on the platform. Of the more than 1,600 ads, more than one in five came from companies “with significant interests in fossil fuels.” The top 20 advertisers included fossil fuel giants ExxonMobil, Shell and Aramco. Consulting firm McKinsey and investment firm Goldman Sachs, which have been criticized for their partnerships with fossil fuel companies, have also been big spenders.
“Google charges groups with a vested interest in the continued use of fossil fuels to influence the resources people receive when they try to educate themselves,” said Jake Carbone, senior data analyst at InfluenceMap. the guard.
The ads they analyzed mimic the look of typical search results and often appear at the top of the page. A 2020 survey found that 58 percent of people don’t know the difference between those ads and regular links. As a result, Google searches can lead unsuspecting users to content from groups with a vested interest in promoting the fossil fuels responsible for the climate crisis.
Many of the ads portray fossil fuel companies as green, such as an ad from Shell saying it is “a willing and capable player in the energy transition”. Another ad from BP says it is “Building and advocating for more renewable capacity and infrastructure.”
the guard and InfluenceMap research found 153 Shell ads popping up in 86 percent of searches for the term “net zero.” The edge Googled this morning for ‘net zero’ and found an ad from oil and gas company BP at the top of the page.
“Net zero” has become a popular goal for countries and companies to essentially reduce and eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions they produce from burning fossil fuels. BP and Shell have set a goal of reaching net zero by 2050, greenwashing experts argue as both companies still plan to continue producing fossil fuels.
According to a large body of research, the entire world must reach net zero emissions by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change. To achieve that goal, there must be no new oil, gas or coal development, according to a roadmap developed by the International Energy Agency last year. Selling themselves as part of the solution to climate change is one of the ways fossil fuel companies are trying to survive, despite the consensus among scientists that coal, oil and gas should be phased out.
This isn’t the first time Google has come under fire for helping to bolster fossil fuel interests. It was revealed last month that Google continued to run ads on content promoting climate denial, even after it made a pledge to ban the practice. In response to those findings from the nonprofit Center for Combating Digital Hate, Google said it has removed the ads from most URLs for violating its policy.
In response to an email from The edge, Google reiterated its policy banning climate-denial ads, pointing to its efforts to put “information panels” about climate change on its search platform. It also insisted that it label its ads appropriately. It did not indicate that it planned to take any action based on the new investigation.