Amazon makes pledge to fight climate change one day before employees protest

Krystal Hu

Amazon (AMZN) wants to lead companies in a commitment to fight climate change and meet the carbon-neutral goal early.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of the e-commerce giant, signed the Climate Pledge it co-founded in Washington, DC on Thursday, calling on businesses to measure and report greenhouse emissions and offset their emissions to be net-zero carbon by 2040—a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement’s goal of 2050. President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement in 2017.

Amazon pledges to use 100% renewable energy by 2030 and achieve net-zero carbon by 2040. The company is also starting a fund to invest $100 million in restoring forests and wetlands and launching a sustainability website to report on its commitments, initiatives, and performance.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, speaks in Washington, DC as the company co-founds The Climate Pledge. (Credit: Amazon)

Part of the efforts involves ordering 100,000 electric delivery trucks from Rivian, the Michigan-based startup Amazon invested in earlier this year, Bezos said. Ford (F) also invested $500 million in Rivian. Amazon will start to put electric delivery vans on the road by 2021, and deploy all 100,000 vans by 2024, according to Bezos.

The move comes two years after the company committed to power its global infrastructure with 100% renewable energy. Amazon has been under pressure from its own employees who asked the company to play a leading role in dealing with climate change. Over 1,500 Amazon employees plan to strike over climate change inaction on Friday.

Amazon should lead on climate, not follow

Following Amazon’s Climate Pledge, employees say Friday’s protest will be held as planned. “Amazon’s newly-announced ‘Climate Pledge’ is a huge win for Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, and we’re thrilled at what workers been able to achieve in less than a year,” said employees who organized the walkout. “Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we’ll be in the streets to continue the fight for a livable future.”

Besides setting a carbon-neutral goal by 2030, employees are also calling the company to stop providing its Amazon Web Services to oil and gas companies and funding lobbyists and politicians who deny climate change. These demands were not addressed by Amazon’s pledge on Thursday. A New York Times report in July found Amazon is funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank that is associated with the climate denial movement.

Employees at major tech companies are using activism to pressure their employees to take a more active role in fighting climate changes. Some employees at Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) are also planning to join the Global Climate Strike on Friday.

Robert Engel, a spokesperson at Free & Fair Markets Initiative, a nonprofit watchdog that has been a vocal critic of Amazon, applauded the move. “Amazon must become a better corporate citizen by listening to its employees and taking meaningful action against climate change.”

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