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Amazon employees step up pressure on climate issues, plan walkout Sept. 20

Benjamin Romano, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

SEATTLE -- A group of Amazon employees pressuring the company to take meaningful action to slow climate change revealed plans Monday for a walkout Sept. 20 to support the student-led Global Climate Strike.

Shortly after the announcement Monday morning, some 941 employees -- a fraction of the Seattle commerce giant's 650,000-person global workforce -- indicated plans to participate.

The walkout, the latest in a growing list of demonstrations by groups of tech company employees on issues ranging from immigration to facial recognition technology, coincides with the start of a global week of protest action. Building on the Fridays for Future student-led school strikes for climate, the upcoming protest actions come ahead of a Sept. 23 United Nations climate summit. At least 20 events are planned across Washington state.

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group that put a climate proposal before shareholders this spring and amassed about 8,200 signatures on a letter urging company founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to take the lead on the global issue, released a video and blog post Monday outlining their intentions to take action later this month.

"As employees at one of the largest and most powerful companies in the world, our role in facing the climate crisis is to ensure our company is leading on climate, not following," employees wrote in a blog post. "We have to take responsibility for the impact that our business has on the planet and on people."

The employees outlined three specific actions they say would "demonstrate real climate leadership":

 

Amazon should eliminate carbon emissions by 2030, and start by using electric vehicles first in communities that suffer most from pollution related to deliveries.

The company should eliminate custom technologies it offers oil and gas companies in its Amazon Web Services cloud computing business.

And, the company should discontinue funding for lobbying groups, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and politicians who block climate action.

Amazon has said it would disclose its carbon emissions and plans to reduce them sometime this year, after what the company describes as years of work "to develop an advanced scientific model to carefully map our carbon footprint to provide our business teams with detailed information helping them identify ways to reduce carbon use in their businesses."

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