Google employees plan to join Global Climate Strike walkout

Employees from Amazon and Microsoft plan to join the global protest, too.


Erik McGregor
/ Contributor
  • A Twitter account claiming to represent Google employees interested in the strike says more than 400 workers have so far pledged to join the protests.
  • Global Climate Strike is a global protest against calling for urgent action on climate change.
  • Google has recently faced criticism for its partnerships with oil and gas companies.


Google employees plan to join fellow tech workers from Amazon and Microsoft on Friday to protest the fossil fuel industry as part of the Global Climate Strike.

Global Climate Strike is a climate change protest scheduled to occur in at least 150 countries from Sept. 20 to 27, coinciding with the United Nations' 2019 Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23. The protests are calling for "climate justice for everyone" and an end to the use of fossil fuels.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," reads a statement on the Global Climate Strike website.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 400 Google employees had planned to walk out on Friday, according to the Google Workers for Action on Climate Change Twitter account. It's unclear exactly what Google employees are demanding from their company, but the Google Workers for Action on Climate Change Twitter account showed protest signs calling for zero contracts with oil and gas companies.

Despite its progressive public stance on climate change, Google has faced criticism in recent years for partnering with oil and gas companies in an attempt to use technology to help automate the industry. The company has also established an oil, gas and energy division, headed by Darryl Willis, a 25-year veteran of BP. The Wall Street Journal described this division as "part of a new group Google has created to court the oil and gas industry." Microsoft and Amazon have made similar partnerships.

Jack Kelly, who runs the nonprofit Open Climate Fix and formerly worked as a research engineer at Google's DeepMind, tweeted:

"I'm so pleased this is happening. Google Cloud's enthusiastic sales pitch to upstream oil & gas producers heavily influenced my decision to leave Google."

Amazon employees, meanwhile, have tied three key demands to Friday's walkout, according to Amazon Employees for Climate Justice:

  • Zero emissions by 2030: Pilot electric vehicles first in communities most impacted by our pollution
  • Zero custom Amazon Web Services (AWS) contracts for fossil fuel companies to accelerate oil and gas extraction
  • Zero funding for climate denying lobbyists and politicians
The upcoming walkout comes less than a year after more than 20,000 Google employees walked off the job to protest the company's decision to give seven-figure exit packages to male executives accused of sexual misconduct. It's possible that, as big tech companies continue to see their employees increasingly engage in activism, Silicon Valley workers might feel more empowered to voice their philosophical and political complaints against these behemoth organizations, and without consequence.
After all, research continues to show that people are willing to make significant sacrifices in order to pursue meaningful work. The question that tech employees are increasingly raising is: Are their employers willing to do the same?
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