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Search Climate Change on Google and You’ll See Fossil Fuel Ads

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Big fossil fuel firms and their allies are top spenders on Google ads and 1 in 4 ads on Google search results for 78 climate-related terms are placed by companies with interests in fossil fuels, new research has revealed.

Of more than 1,600 ads, over one in five were from companies “with significant interests in fossil fuels,” according to an analysis by The Guardian and climate think tank InfluenceMap.

The top 20 advertisers included ExxonMobil, Shell, and Aramco fossil fuel giants.

Consulting firm McKinsey and investment firm Goldman Sachs, which have been criticized for working with fossil fuel companies, were also big spenders.

“Google is letting groups with a vested interest in the continued use of fossil fuels pay to influence the resources people receive when they are trying to educate themselves,” InfluenceMap senior data analyst Jake Carbone told The Guardian.

Oil major Shell’s ads — 153 were counted in total — appeared on 86 percent of searches for “net-zero”.

The report said that many promoted its pledge to become a net-zero company by 2050 and align itself with a 1.5C warming target.

An ad from Shell says it’s “a willing and able player in the energy transition”.

Another ad from BP says it is “Building and advocating for more renewable capacity & infrastructure.”

“Net zero” has become a popular goal for companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions they produce by burning fossil fuels.

BP and Shell have set goals to reach net zero by 2050.

“Shell’s target is to become a net zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society. Our short, medium and long-term intensity and absolute targets are consistent with the more ambitious 1.5C goal of the Paris agreement,” a spokesperson said.

In a statement to The Verge, Google reiterated its policy banning ads that feature climate denial.

The company also said that it adequately labels its ads.

State-owned Saudi oil company Aramco had 114 ads on the keywords “carbon storage”, “carbon capture” and “energy transition”.

According to the report, a number of their ads claimed the company “promoted biodiversity” and “protected the planet”.


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