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Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said in the letter they were “disappointed” by the tech giants’ decision to support LibertyCon, the annual convention of the libertarian group Students for Liberty.
“Given the magnitude and urgency of the climate crisis that we are now facing, we find it imperative to ensure that the climate-related views espoused at LibertyCon do not reflect the values of your companies going forward,” the congresswomen wrote.
Google, a platinum sponsor of the event, reportedly paid $25,000, while Facebook and Microsoft each contributed $10,000, according to Mother Jones, which first reported the news. One of the other notable backers was CO2 Coalition, a conservative think tank founded in 2015 that was handing out brochures at the event to “explain how our lives and our planet Earth will be improved by additional atmospheric carbon dioxide.”
In response, Google said although it sponsors organizations from "across the political spectrum" each year to promote stronger techonlogy laws, its sponsorship with a third-party organization does not mean it supports the organization's agenda.
"Google has long been a leader in sustainability," a spokesperson told FOX Business. "Since 2007, we have operated as a carbon neutral company and in 2017, we reached 100 percent renewable energy for our global operations." The search engine behemoth is also one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy, which it said has led to $5 billion in new capital investment globally.
Microsoft, likewise, defended its engagement with LibertyCon, describing it as a "breakfast reception for student leaders to discuss topics including rural broadband and privacy."
"Climate change is one of the most important issues of our time, and our commitment to addressing it is unequivocal," a spokesperson said. "For the past decade, we've reduced emissions, invested in renewable energy, supported policies to address climate change and enabled people around the globe to use technology to accelerate progress on this issue.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While Ocasio-Cortez and Pingree applauded the companies for their previous efforts in addressing climate change -- they’ve all made public commitments to reduce carbon emissions -- they urged them to not grant climate change deniers “any credibility, whether intentional or otherwise.”
“Today’s coordinated campaign to deny climate change, or to put a positive spin on its effect, is not unlike that of the tobacco companies which once sought to discredit their product’s link to cancer,” they wrote. “Their propaganda kept the nation from addressing a public health crisis for years, leading to many preventable deaths. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again with climate change.”