CEO Jeff Bezos has pledged to make the company he founded carbon neutral and meet the goals of the Paris accord by 2040.
The development came as more than 1,500 Amazon staff at its Seattle headquarters plan to stage a walkout in protest at the environmental impact of the e-commerce giant.
And while Bezos made the pledge, he also said that Amazon will purchase 100,000 electric delivery vans from a start-up that his firm has invested in.
Amazon of course has a sizeable carbon footprint due to its delivery service that delivers 10 billion items a year, and its power hungry AWS data centers.
“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue – we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO in a statement. “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon – which delivers more than 10 billion items a year – can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can.”
“I’ve been talking with other CEOs of global companies, and I’m finding a lot of interest in joining the pledge,” Bezos added. “Large companies signing The Climate Pledge will send an important signal to the market that it’s time to invest in the products and services the signatories will need to meet their commitments.”
Bezos made the pledge at a press conference in Washington ahead of the upcoming Climate Week in New York, a gathering of world and company leaders to seek ways to fight climate change.
Marches and walkouts are planned on Friday, including at Amazon’s HQ.
Tales in Tech History: Read how Amazon transformed itself from an online retailer of books into a global e-commerce powerhouse.
Bezos said Amazon will meet the goals of the Paris climate accord 10 years ahead of the accord’s schedule, and it will use 100% renewable energy by 2030, up from 40 percent today.
Bezos also confirmed that Amazon will purchase 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from American vehicle design and manufacturing startup Rivian Automotive LLC, which counts Ford and Amazon as its investors.
Amazon will also invest $100m (£80m) to restore forests and wetlands, and it has launched a new sustainability website to report on its commitments, initiatives, and performance.
Greenpeace USA welcomed the move by Bezos and Amazon, but said the company still lags behind rivals such as Google, Apple and Facebook in transparency around its renewable projects.
“Greenpeace welcomes the commitment from Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos to the early achievement of Amazon’s targets to meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s 1.5 degree temperature threshold by 2040, but the company must be more transparent about how it plans to rapidly transition off of fossil fuels if it hopes to achieve this credibly,” said Gary Cook, senior corporate campaigner from Greenpeace USA.
“While the purchasing of one hundred thousand electric vans is certainly more than a token investment, Amazon is still one of the few companies who have not published its carbon footprint,” said Cook. “We are still missing how fast its emissions are rising and a sense of what effort is needed to achieve these commitments.”
“Amazon is known for speed, but if Jeff Bezos wants Amazon to be a leader on climate, he needs to spell out exactly how it is going to rapidly move the company off of fossil fuels to keep our planet within the 1.5 degree temperature threshold in the Paris Agreement that Amazon has now committed to,” said Cook.
“Throwing money at carbon offsets and continuing to support the oil giants find even more oil is an early indication that Jeff Bezos doesn’t understand the transition that is needed,” he added.
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