Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Google’s Sustainability Commitment Now Includes Banning Climate Change Denial Ads


The world’s largest search engine just announced a ban on ads across Google and Youtube that ignore climate change science.

On the heels of several big initiatives to promote sustainability, Google says effective next month, both the search engine and Youtube will prohibit ads for, and monetization of, “content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change.”

The ban will align with the COP26 climate change summit taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, in early November.

“In recent years, we’ve heard directly from a growing number of our advertising and publisher partners who have expressed concerns about ads that run alongside or promote inaccurate claims about climate change,” Google wrote in a post to its advertiser partners. “Advertisers simply don’t want their ads to appear next to this content. And publishers and creators don’t want ads promoting these claims to appear on their pages or videos.”

Ads play a big part in Google’s revenue; it grossed more than $134 billion in ad sales in 2020.

Image courtesy of Mark Neal on Pexels

Google says the ban includes “content referring to climate change as a hoax or a scam, claims denying that long-term trends show the global climate is warming, and claims denying that greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change.”

The Mountain View, California-based company says it will “look carefully” at the context in which claims are made “differentiating between content that states a false claim as fact, versus content that reports on or discusses that claim.” The ban will not prohibit ads that debate climate policy or the varying impacts of climate change, or research.

“In creating this policy and its parameters, we’ve consulted authoritative sources on the topic of climate science, including experts who have contributed to United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports,” Google wrote.

“This new policy not only will help us strengthen the integrity of our advertising ecosystem, but also it aligns strongly with the work we’ve done as a company over the past two decades to promote sustainability and confront climate change head-on.”

Google’s sustainability efforts

The tech giant’s travel app now also defaults to the most sustainable route. Its more than 150 million Google Maps users are now being sent on the travel route likely to produce the lowest possible carbon emissions. It is the app’s new default travel mode, with few exceptions.

Its New York City flagship store is one of only about 250 retail locations to achieve LEED Platinum certification.

“As we began the process to create our first retail store, the number of details to consider was daunting, but the opportunity at hand was amazing,” Google’s VP, Hardware Design, UX & Research, Ivy Ross, and Head of Store Design & Special Projects, Nathan Allen, said in a blog post. “We wanted our first store to reflect the same approach we take to designing our products: making sure they’re always helpful to people. The result is a space we believe is warm and inviting, while providing new ways to celebrate and experience Google through our phones, displays, speakers, wearables and more.”

Just ahead of Earth Day, Google added a new feature to the Google Earth app to help users visualize the impact of climate change.

Google’s biggest update in five years, Timelapse, is made up of 24 million satellite images taken between 1984 and 2020. Through a comprehensive time-lapse, users can now see how climate change has affected glaciers, beaches, forests, and other natural environments in the last four decades.

Google says it hopes the update will help its users to grasp the often-abstract concept of climate change. The changes to natural environments, it says, showcase the rapid rate of loss and how little is left to save.

“Our planet has seen rapid environmental change in the past half-century — more than any other point in human history,” reads a blog post by Rebecca Moore Director, Google Earth, Earth Engine & Outreach, on the launch.

“Many of us have experienced these changes in our own communities; I myself was among the thousands of Californians evacuated from their homes during the state’s wildfires last year. For other people, the effects of climate change feel abstract and far away, like melting ice caps and receding glaciers. With Timelapse in Google Earth, we have a clearer picture of our changing planet right at our fingertips — one that shows not just problems but also solutions, as well as mesmerizingly beautiful natural phenomena that unfold over decades.”

Google identified five key themes as it embarked on the project: forest change, urban growth, warming temperatures, sources of energy, and what it calls the world’s “fragile beauty.”

“As far as we know, Timelapse in Google Earth is the largest video on the planet, of our planet,” Moore said.

“We hope that this perspective of the planet will ground debates, encourage discovery and shift perspectives about some of our most pressing global issues.”

Google also recently updated its search function for hotels to allow users to more easily identify hotels by their sustainability commitments.


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