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

Benjamin Romano, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

Amazon argues that e-commerce "is inherently the most sustainable way to shop" and cloud computing is likewise for IT operations. The company has set a goal of powering all of its infrastructure using renewable energy, but set no target for when it would achieve that. In February, Amazon set its first emissions-reduction goal with a date attached: It pledged to reduce emissions from half of its deliveries to "net zero" by 2030.

However, that pledge raises many questions about how the company would achieve the reductions -- the "net zero" language suggests the use of carbon offsets, such as tree-planting programs -- and whether it intends to reduce absolute emissions. If the company only reduces emissions intensity per shipment, but shipment volume continues to grow substantially in the next decade, its total emissions could conceivably rise.

Amazon's climate-focused employees say that's not good enough. "We pride ourselves on being a leader," they wrote in the blog post. "But in the face of the climate crisis, a true leader is one who reaches zero emissions first, not one who slides in at the last possible moment."

They pointed to the speed with which Amazon has developed its own delivery network, and its willingness to invest in ever-faster delivery, as it did earlier this year with a move to one-day shipping for many Prime orders. A commitment to "zero-emissions logistics" by Amazon, the employees argue, "has the power to move industries."

Asked to comment on the employee walkout, an Amazon spokesperson provided a statement reiterating past company efforts and the disclosure plans.


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