Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) wrote a letter to the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Friday criticizing the companies’ sponsorship of the libertarian conference LibertyCon due to a panel at the event that questioned climate change.
We cannot allow the financing of misinformation campaigns to shape our democracy.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 28, 2019
We can disagree on policy, but climate change is real. Period.
Proud to have joined @chelliepingree on this letter asking for greater responsibility to our democracy and planet. https://t.co/5hLsg1FmgT
The congresswomen wrote that they were “deeply disappointed” to see that the companies were “high-level sponsors of a conference this month in Washington D.C., known as LibertyCon, that included a session denying established science on climate change.”
The conference featured a panel titled, “Let’s Talk About Not Talking: Should There Be ‘No Debate’ that Industrial Carbon Dioxide is Causing Climate Catastrophe?”
In their letter, Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Pingree argued that “the example you have set promoting sustainability and evidence-based science is compromised by your implicit support of the session organized at LibertyCon.”
The letter acknowledged that “sponsorship of an event or conference is a common occurrence and that these sponsorships do not automatically indicate that the company endorses the variety of political viewpoints that may be presented at these events.”
But the Democratic congresswomen wrote that the climate crisis has grown too serious for the companies to allow debate about it in the events that they sponsor.
“However, 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,” they emphasized.
They went on to compare the session to the tobacco industry’s attempts to discredit their products’ links to cancer.
“As you are well aware, the spreading of misinformation can be dangerous to our society,” they wrote. “Today’s coordinated campaign to deny climate change, or to put a positive spin on its effects, is not unlike that of the tobacco companies which once sought to discredit their product’s link to cancer. 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.”
Microsoft explained in a statement to Bloomberg that its presence at the event was "a reception for student leaders to discuss topics such as rural broadband access and privacy."
"Climate change is one of the most important issues of our time, and our commitment to addressing it is unequivocal," the company said.
Google responded that it was "a leader in sustainability," and "said it reached 100 percent renewable energy for its operations in 2017."
"Google’s sponsorship or collaboration with a third party organization doesn’t mean that we endorse the organization’s entire agenda or agree with other speakers or sponsors," the company told Bloomberg.
Ocasio-Cortez made headlines last week for comparing the threat of climate change to World War II and arguing that the world would end in twelve years if it was not addressed.
“I think that the part of it that is generational is that millennials and people, in Gen Z, and all these folks that come after us are looking up and we’re like, the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,” she said at the time. “And your biggest issue is, your biggest issue is how are we going to pay for it? — and like this is the war, this is our World War II.”