Google said Thursday it would cut off ad money for YouTube videos and other content on its sites that include climate change denial, a major step for the tech company as scientists continue to warn that humanity is edging ever closer to unprecedented levels of planetary warming.
“In recent years, we’ve heard directly from a growing number of our advertising and publisher partners who have expressed concerns about ads that run alongside or promote inaccurate claims about climate change,” Google’s ads team wrote in a statement. “Advertisers simply don’t want their ads to appear next to this content. And publishers and creators don’t want ads promoting these claims to appear on their pages or videos.”
Offending content will include anything that refers to climate change as a hoax or scam, claims which deny the science that shows the planet is warming or those that deny greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels or other human activity contribute to climate change.
Ads and monetization will be allowed on other climate-related topics, Google said, including “public debates on climate policy, the varying impacts of climate change, new research and more.” The company will use a mix of human review and automated tools to enforce the policies, which will begin next month.
The tech giant added that it had consulted “authoritative sources” to draft its new rules, including experts who helped write the United Nations’ seminal climate documents, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments.
The New York Times notes that Google already restricts certain types of content from earning ad money, a process known as demonetizing. Videos featuring firearm-related content or those about tragic events are already barred from digital revenue.
YouTube also said last month it would ban all content that includes anti-vaccine content.
The latest IPCC report reaffirmed that the world is on a dire trajectory, saying the planet had essentially locked in intensive climate change for the next 30 years through the burning of fossil fuels. The worst effects of climate change can still be averted, however, with a dramatic and immediate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But how hot things get depends on us and scientists have long sounded warning bells that the current commitments do not go far enough.
The United Nations’ secretary-general called the IPCC’s latest findings a “code red for humanity.”