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February 16, 2012 at 8:16 AM

Microsoft takes flak for donating software to think tank skeptical of climate change

Microsoft is taking some flak for donating software to Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based free-market think tank that is skeptical of climate change.

The Guardian reported that Microsoft was among the donors to the institute and that that information had been revealed “after an ‘insider’ emailed confidential documents detailing its strategy and fundraising network to DeSmogBlog, which monitors industry efforts to discredit climate science.”

“Much of Heartland’s work to discredit climate change is funded by a single anonymous donor, the papers reveal,” according to The Guardian. “However, a 2012 fundraising plan also indicated that Heartland has in the past received funds from a host of major corporations for other projects – including companies that publicly support action on climate change.”

The Heartland Institute responded, saying some of the leaked documents were “stolen from Heartland, at least one is a fake, and some may have been altered.”

“One document, titled ‘Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,’ is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute,” the organization posted. “It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact.”

What does seem clear is that Microsoft was indeed among the companies that donated to Heartland.

Microsoft did so as part of its program to provide software donations to nonprofits.

“As part of our global nonprofit software donation program, Microsoft provides free software licenses upon request to any eligible non-profit organization,” according to a statement from the company. “In Fiscal Year 2011, Microsoft donated $844 million in software to 44,000 nonprofits around the world. As part of that program, the organization requested free software licenses, and Microsoft provided them, just like we do for thousands of other eligible non-profits every year.”

The donation does not alter Microsoft’s stance on climate change, according to the company.

“Microsoft believes climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate, worldwide attention and we are acting accordingly,” according to the company statement. “We are pursuing strategies and taking actions that are consistent with a strong commitment to reducing our own impact as well as the impact of our products. In addition, Microsoft has adopted a broad policy statement on climate change that expresses support for government action to create market-based mechanisms to address climate change.”

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