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Google employees urge company to commit to zero emissions by 2030

More than 1,000 Google workers sign an open letter demanding a plan from the search giant on climate change.

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Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. 

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google employees on Monday called on company management to take action against climate change. More than 1,000 workers signed an open letter to Ruth Porat, Google's chief financial officer, demanding the search giant release a plan addressing carbon emissions and political lobbying. 

Specifically, the letter demands a commitment from Google to zero emissions by 2030, as well as no contracts that "enable or accelerate the extraction of fossil fuels." The employees also called on the company to ban funding to climate-denying or climate-delaying think tanks, lobbyists or politicians. Additionally, they want the company to vow not to collaborate with groups that harm refugees or other groups affected on the "frontline" of climate change.

"Google is a global company with billions of users across the world, many of whom are already bearing the brunt of climate disaster," the letter says. "Google's code of conduct requires respect for users and for opportunities." 

Google declined to comment. The open letter comes after The Guardian last month reported that Google has made "substantial" contributions to some of the "most notorious climate deniers" in Washington DC. 

The search giant's employees are no strangers to corporate protest. Workers have in the past protested the company's work in China, contracts with the Pentagon, and treatment of temporary workers and contractors. Last Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the Google walkout, in which 20,000 workers around the world marched out of their offices to protest payouts to executives accused of sexual assault and misconduct.

Google says it's been carbon "neutral" since 2007, meaning it has offset the emissions it's produced by doing things like planting trees. But employee activists want the company to go further. 

In the letter, Google's employees also mention protest efforts by workers from Amazon and Microsoft over climate change. Amazon employees called the climate situation "existential" and said the pace of warming would "threaten the lives of hundreds of millions of people and put thousands of species at risk of extinction."