06 Nov Google launches new program for green start-ups as employees revolt over its record on climate change
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the Google I/O keynote session at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on May 7, 2019.Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty ImagesGoogle is launching a new start-up accelerator focused on sustainable development and climate one day after an uproar from its employees over the company’s sustainability dealings.The company announced the new accelerator in a blog post as Google’s Chief Sustainability Officer Kate Brandt announced it at the 2019 Web Summit.The accelerator will function as a part of Google’s internal accelerator program called Google for Startups, which helps batches of companies scale and find investors while accessing Google’s resources like engineering and executive mentors.The announcement comes as 1,137 employees signed a petition addressed to Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat, urging the company to meet several sustainability-related demands. Those demands include ending partnerships and funding for partners such as “climate-denying think tanks.”A separate climate petition from September, which garnered 2,000 signatures from Google employees, said Google in 2018, funded more than 100 members of Congress who voted against climate legislation. It also said the carbon footprint of the tech industry’s data centers alone is “on par with aviation.””Technology can help address some of the world’s biggest challenges, from empowering others to use AI to address social challenges, to setting ambitious and long-term environmental sustainability goals, the company’s blog post stated. “When businesses and investors work together with government, nonprofits, communities and individuals, we can make real progress.”Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.The new accelerator, focused on “sustainability”, will also include work around poverty, peace and justice, the blog post noted.The company is taking applications for startups from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at first, it stated in the blog post. The accelerator will hold up to 10 startups for a six-month accelerator program in 2020. Then, it will add a second cohort later in the year.