Readers of Tuesday’s New York Times were treated to a full-page ad advocating for policymakers to do something, anything really, about climate change. “We have the solutions to the climate crisis,” the stark ad copy began in bold block letters before noting the undersigned tech companies want Congress and the White House to “ACT NOW.”
Salesforce, eBay, Lyft and Etsy are among the big names in tech who signed onto the ad, as well as companies like Allbirds and Impossible. Missing, though, are some of the tech industry’s biggest names and companies that have talked loudly about the need to reduce carbon pollution: Google, Netflix, Microsoft and LinkedIn (which is owned by the former).
The ad was paid for by Drawdown Labs, an arm of the nonprofit Project Drawdown dedicated to scaling corporate climate action. LinkedIn, Google and Netflix are among its members, making their absence as signatories on the ad all the more noticeable. Protocol has reached out to each company for comment on why they chose not to sign on, and all three declined to comment on the record. A source with knowledge said Netflix simply missed the deadline but agrees with the message in the ad and Drawdown’s goals generally.
It’s worth stepping back for a moment and considering what the ad copy is actually asking for. “Policy” and “investment” are pretty nebulous terms. The ad doesn’t advocate for reviving the Build Back Better Act and its $550 billion in climate investments. It doesn’t outline any concrete policies or call on Democrats to act, nor does it call out Republicans for blocking action. “Spending money” and “doing stuff” is about as anodyne a climate ask as you can put out there.
Microsoft, Google and Netflix have all touted very specific climate goals. Microsoft has announced it will be “carbon negative” by 2030, meaning it will suck more carbon out of the sky than its operations emit. The company will initially rely on offsets. But by the end of the decade, its plan calls for relying on technology that is still in its most nascent stages to remove carbon dioxide from thin air.
While Bill Gates has made major investments in carbon dioxide removal startups, it’s the kind of technology that could also benefit from targeted federal investments and policies that could help grow the industry. Climate Advisers, a B Corp advisory council for climate solutions, has a whole host of recommendations for how federal policy could enhance carbon dioxide removal efforts.
Google and Netflix have similarly set aggressive climate goals for this decade and talked a big game. Sundar Pichai has called addressing the climate crisis a “foundational value” for Google while Netflix has gone all in promoting “Don’t Look Up,” its record-setting movie about a planet-destroying comet headed for Earth that’s a stand-in for the climate crisis. In the movie, the government’s failure to act on the threat and relying solely on tech solutions to break up the comet and mine it are, well, no spoilers. But let’s just say this ad seems like a pretty easy one for Netflix to attach its signature to if it watched the movie it produced.