Americans think tech companies are key to solving climate change

They’re also concerned about how global warming could impact the industry, from the supply chain to innovation.

Protestors line up as Andy Jassy the CEO of Amazon speaks at the ceremonial ribbon cutting prior to opening night for the Climate Pledge Arena

Two-thirds of poll respondents were concerned that the tech industry is a major contributor to climate change.

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Two-thirds of U.S. adults are concerned about the tech industry’s impact on the climate, and 73% believe that tech companies have an obligation to address the crisis, according to an exclusive survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Protocol.

The results, first shared here, also show the industry’s own workers are even more concerned and ready for tech companies to take action. That reflects a growing movement of tech workers putting pressure on their employers to lay out more ambitious climate plans and stick to them.

Climate change poses a number of challenges to the tech industry. Just last summer, we saw flooding decimate Zhengzhou, an iPhone manufacturing hub, while Amazon warehouse workers suffered through triple-digit heat in the Pacific Northwest. These incontrovertible impacts of the climate crisis are why more Americans than ever are alarmed about climate change, and, as the new results reveal, they’re also a concern when it comes to how people think about the tech industry.

The poll — which was conducted in March and includes roughly 1,000 respondents — shows what people are most worried about when it comes to the impacts the climate crisis could have on the tech industry. Among their concerns are that the tech supply chain, sourcing, manufacturing materials and growth and innovation could be affected. The majority surveyed — around 61% — are also worried that the tech industry’s reputation could be at stake, with 66% concerned that the industry is a major contributor to climate change.

More than half of respondents say tech companies can do something about climate change. Some 59% think tech companies should pursue purchasing renewable energy, 55% believe companies should pursue reducing operation emissions and half see improving supply chain sustainability and investing in new technologies as potential solutions. A number of companies are already taking some of these actions, particularly around buying renewable energy.

But decarbonizing the supply chain has proven to be more challenging as tech companies try to get a handle on Scope 3 emissions. Those carbon emissions are associated both with manufacturing goods and customers’ use of products. Microsoft, for example, saw its Scope 3 emissions rise last year. The same is true for other companies; Amazon saw its emissions increase 19% from 2019 to 2020, the last year with data available.

The public also wants to see venture capital firms get involved by investing in carbon dioxide removal technologies, even if they have yet to be proven. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said it was worth investing in. Most scenarios for stabilizing the climate will require some level of carbon dioxide removal.

Though people think tech companies could be doing more, 63% of respondents trust them to meet their stated climate change goals. An even greater 69% say that tech companies’ commitments to addressing climate change influence their opinions of companies.

Tech workers want the industry to do more

Tech workers are even more eager for the industry to do something about climate change. A stunning 94% of tech workers surveyed say that tech companies are highly obligated to address climate change, and 96% say tech companies should make commitments and investments to address it. Some 88% of tech workers say that a tech company’s commitment to climate change influences their opinion of it.

Activism at tech companies has exploded in recent years. High-profile unionization efforts have swept across Amazon, Apple, Google and elsewhere to improve working conditions. Employees at Amazon also organized to press the company to set climate targets, including pushing shareholder resolutions for the company to clean up its act. The company eventually fired two of the leading organizers, and it was forced to cough up back pay following a National Labor Relations Board ruling last year. The new polling shows companies can likely expect more pressure in the coming years.

A total of 60% of tech workers think the company they work at is doing more to address climate issues than others, twice that of all employed adults surveyed. But many also believe that companies can only do so much.

Close to two-thirds of tech worker respondents reported that the pandemic has impacted their employer’s efforts to address climate change. Other limiting factors reported include profit, shareholder considerations and the priorities of a company’s leadership. Despite these limitations, 82% reported wanting to see their company take more steps to address climate change.


Crypto is crumbling, and DeFi hacks are getting worse

The amount of crypto stolen in the first quarter of 2022 has already surpassed criminal hackers’ 2021 haul. There aren’t any easy fixes.

The biggest hacks of 2022 were carried out by attackers spotting vulnerabilities in smart contracts and protocols, especially in cross-chain bridges and flash loan protocols.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Until recently, DeFi seemed like it was on an exponential trajectory upwards. With the collective value of crypto peaking near $3 trillion, hackers saw a big opportunity. The only thing that may slow them down is the precipitous drop in the value of the tokens they’re going after.

DeFi hacks have been getting worse and worse, with no clear solutions in sight. According to a recent report by blockchain security firm PeckShield, the amount of money netted from DeFi hacks in the first four months of 2022, $1.57 billion, has already surpassed the amount netted in all of 2021, $1.55 billion. A report by Chainalysis found a similar trend, with the hacker haul in the first three months of 2022 exceeding a record set in the third quarter of 2021.

Keep Reading Show less
Lindsey Choo
Lindsey Choo is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. She is a graduate of UC San Diego, where she double majored in communications and political science. She has previously covered healthcare issues for the Center for Healthy Aging and was a senior staff writer for The UCSD Guardian. She can be reached at
Sponsored Content

Foursquare data story: leveraging location data for site selection

We take a closer look at points of interest and foot traffic patterns to demonstrate how location data can be leveraged to inform better site selecti­on strategies.

Imagine: You’re the leader of a real estate team at a restaurant brand looking to open a new location in Manhattan. You have two options you’re evaluating: one site in SoHo, and another site in the Flatiron neighborhood. Which do you choose?

Keep Reading Show less

Privacy by Design laws will kill your data pipelines

The legislation could make old data pipelines more trouble than they’re worth.

Data pipelines have become so unwieldy that companies might not even know if they are complying with regulations.

Image: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

A car is totaled when the cost to repair it exceeds its total value. By that logic, Privacy by Design legislation could soon be totaling data pipelines at some of the most powerful tech companies.

Those pipelines were developed well before the advent of more robust user privacy laws, such as the European Union’s GDPR (2018) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (2020). Their foundational architectures were therefore designed without certain privacy-preserving principals in mind, including k-anonymity and differential privacy.

Keep Reading Show less
Hirsh Chitkara

Hirsh Chitkara ( @HirshChitkara) is a reporter at Protocol focused on the intersection of politics, technology and society. Before joining Protocol, he helped write a daily newsletter at Insider that covered all things Big Tech. He's based in New York and can be reached at


Why AI-powered ransomware could be 'terrifying'

Hiring AI experts to automate ransomware could be the next step for well-endowed ransomware groups that are seeking to scale up their attacks.

Ransomware gangs don’t have AI ransomware. At least not yet.

Photo: Max Duzij/Unsplash

In the perpetual battle between cybercriminals and defenders, the latter have always had one largely unchallenged advantage: The use of AI and machine learning allows them to automate a lot of what they do, especially around detecting and responding to attacks. This leg-up hasn't been nearly enough to keep ransomware at bay, but it has still been far more than what cybercriminals have ever been able to muster in terms of AI and automation.

That’s because deploying AI-powered ransomware would require AI expertise. And the ransomware gangs don’t have it. At least not yet.

Keep Reading Show less
Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach ( @KyleAlspach) is a senior reporter at Protocol, focused on cybersecurity. He has covered the tech industry since 2010 for outlets including VentureBeat, CRN and the Boston Globe. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and can be reached at


Crypto’s big crash

Is the tech superbubble about to burst?

red and blue light streaks
Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

This week, we're diving into the crypto crash. What led luna to fall off a cliff? Are we seeing the dot-com bust, part two? Protocol fintech editor Owen Thomas explains it all to us. Then entertainment reporter Janko Roettgers joins us to share the inside scoop on his exclusive interview with Mark Zuckerberg. We learn why Meta is betting it all on the metaverse and Brian finally gets to ask the most pressing question on his mind this week: What does Mark smell like?

And finally, Caitlin and Brian take a moment to reminisce about the iPod, which was put out to pasture this week after more than two decades on the market.

Keep Reading Show less
Caitlin McGarry

Caitlin McGarry is the news editor at Protocol.

Latest Stories