Amazon steps up on climate change, sort of
As scientists continue to say that the climate change forecast is worsening, Amazon.com has been blamed by many for its negative impact on the environment due to its near-immediate delivery of products ordered online, data centers that use large amounts of energy and its work with energy companies via AWS.
While the U.S. government is planning to pull out of the Paris climate agreement late next year, Amazon committed last week to meet the agreed upon goals 10 years early and become carbon neutral by 2040, according to The New York Times’ coverage of a Jeff Bezos talk at the National Press Club.
Mr. Bezos announced a new effort called the Climate Pledge. Amazon, he said, is ordering 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from a Michigan-based company. The company also released its carbon footprint emissions numbers for 2018, which totaled 44.4 million metric tons, more than rivals such as UPS, FedEx, Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Target individually, but 38 percent less than Walmart.
As part of his rationale for change, Bezos said that climate change forecasts are now significantly worse than they were just five years ago.
About fifteen-hundred employees walked off the job last week in conjunction with climate protests around the globe, as part of actions by a group called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, which has been pressuring the company for nearly a year. Employees demanded that Amazon get to zero emissions by 2030, stop offering cloud computing services to help the oil and gas industry find more fossil fuel sources and stop donating to politicians who deny climate change.
Environmental groups were skeptical of Amazon’s pledges and emissions reporting, expressing concerns that it has been too vague in both areas.
Mr. Bezos did not meet employee demands. He said Amazon would continue to help energy companies as they “transition,” would take a “hard look” at donations and did not endorse the Green New Deal.
Amazon, as reported by Gizmodo, intends to use 80 percent renewable energy by 2024 (100 percent by 2030) and is donating $100 million towards a reforestation project. Gizmodo criticized the announcement, in part, because Amazon has not yet met its pledge from 2014 to power all its operations with clean energy, as it has only hit the 40 percent mark five years later.
In February, Amazon invested $440 million in Rivian, the electric vehicle maker, and hopes to have 10,000 vehicles in service by 2022, although no vehicles have been produced so far.
- Amazon Accelerates Efforts to Fight Climate Change – The New York Times
- Amazon’s Climate Pledge: Greenwashing Or A Game-Changer? – Forbes
- Amazon’s Climate Plan Is Full of Gaping Holes – Gizmodo
- Amazon workers have mixed reactions to Bezos’ carbon-neutral pledge – The Seattle Times
- Amazon’s Emissions Comparable to Large Power Company – Business of Fashion
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: As the U.S. leader in e-commerce and web services, should Amazon do more to fight climate change? Do its recent announcements go far enough?