According to a new report by CCDH, Google had accepted $23.7 million in search ad buys from oil giants over the last two years to help them greenwash their brands and reputations.

Researchers found that oil giants bought ads to appear to users searching for phrases such as “net zero” or “eco-friendly” on Google’s front page. In these ads, the oil giants altered the facts about climate change or disassembled the companies’ pollution and emissions records to miss represent the company’s carbon footprint.

The search engine is “gaslighting” people looking to learn about climate change, said Imran Ahmed, CCDH CEO.

Greenwashing is key to Big Oil’s strategy to delay the transition to renewable energy,” he said.

In response, Google spokesperson Michael Aciman pointed to the company’s stance against climate disinformation.

“Last year, we launched a new, industry-leading policy that explicitly prohibits ads promoting false claims about the existence and causes of climate change,” he said in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

he also said “When we find content that crosses the line from policy debate or a discussion of green initiatives to promoting outright climate change denial, we remove those ads.”

The researchers of the study mainly focused on the world’s largest oil and gas firms – BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and Aramco – which are responsible for 14.4% of global emissions since 1965.

All these companies have also recently posted huge quarterly profits, benefiting from skyrocketed fossil fuel prices that have boosted inflation globally.

Photo: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg