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Organizational Change
Amazon Makes Surprise Climate Pledge to Meet Paris Agreement 10 Years Early

The tech giant — until now largely silent re climate goals — commits to net zero carbon by 2040, 100% renewable energy by 2030, $100 million in reforestation projects around the world.

Today, Amazon — which has largely skirted the issue of climate action — today did a complete about-face with the launch of The Climate Pledge, a commitment to meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early. Amazon is the first signatory of the pledge, co-founded with Global Optimism, which calls on signatories to be net zero carbon across their businesses by 2040 — a decade ahead of the Paris Accord’s goal of 2050.

Companies that sign The Climate Pledge agree to do a host of things that many companies have already begun to move forward on, but represent a new direction for Amazon:

  • Measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis;

  • Implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement through real business changes and innovations — including efficiency improvements, renewable energy, materials reductions, and other CO2 emission-elimination strategies;

  • Neutralize any remaining emissions with additional, quantifiable, real, permanent and socially beneficial offsets to achieve net zero annual carbon emissions by 2040.

    “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.” — Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

“I’ve been talking with other CEOs of global companies, and I’m finding a lot of interest in joining the pledge," Bezos said. "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."

The bold announcement comes after months of pushback from Amazon employees, who’ve been fed up with the company’s lack of action on climate change. In May, nearly 8,000 employees were dismayed when Bezos all but ignored a letter they’d addressed to him, asking that Amazon use its influence to become a climate leader. Earlier this month, over 900 employees publicly declared that they would walk off the job, as part of tomorrow’s Global Climate Strike, led by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. No word yet on whether the plan still stands, in light of Amazon’s new Climate Pledge.

Meanwhile, by joining The Climate Pledge and agreeing to decarbonize on a faster time horizon, Amazon says it and future signatories will play a critical role in stimulating investment in the development of low-carbon products and services that will be required to help companies meet the pledge. Amazon’s previously announced investment in Rivian — a Michigan-based producer of emissions-free electric vehicles (EVs) is an example of this: The $440 million investment will accelerate the production of EVs critical to reducing emissions from transportation. To further advance this goal, Amazon today announced the order of 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, the largest order ever of electric delivery vehicles, with vans starting to deliver packages to customers in 2021. Amazon plans to have 10,000 of the new EVs on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030 — saving 4 million metric tons of carbon per year by 2030.

“Bold steps by big companies will make a huge difference in the development of new technologies and industries to support a low carbon economy,” said Christiana Figueres, the UN’s former climate change chief and founding partner of Global Optimism. “With this step, Amazon also helps many other companies to accelerate their own decarbonization. If Amazon can set ambitious goals like this and make significant changes at their scale, we think many more companies should be able to do the same and will accept the challenge. We are excited to have others join.”

80% renewable energy by 2024 and 100% renewable energy by 2030

Two years ago, Amazon made a long-term commitment to power its global infrastructure with 100 percent renewable energy. Amazon is now pledging to reach 80 percent renewable energy by 2024 and 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, on its path to net zero carbon by 2040. Major investments in renewable energy are a critical step to address its carbon footprint globally. To date, Amazon has launched 15 utility-scale wind and solar projects that will generate over 1,300 MW of renewable capacity and deliver more than 3.8 million MWh of clean energy annually – enough to power 368,000 US homes. Amazon has also installed more than 50 solar rooftops on fulfillment centers and sort centers around the globe that generate 98 MW of renewable capacity and deliver 130,000 MWh of clean energy annually.

Investing $100 million in reforestation

Today, Amazon is also launching the Right Now Climate Fund — committing $100 million to restore and protect forests, wetlands and peatlands around the world — in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The Fund aims to help remove millions of metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere over the lifetime of the project, and create economic opportunity for thousands of people.

“The science is clear: Healthy forests, grasslands, and wetlands are some of the most effective tools we have to address climate change — but we must act now to take natural climate solutions to scale,” said Sally Jewell, interim CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “Amazon is recognized as an innovator that drives real change. A commitment of this size is an exciting opportunity, with the potential to drive transformational change. We applaud Amazon’s Climate Pledge and their aggressive ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and look forward to our high-impact collaboration.”

Sustainability reporting

Along with its other launches, Amazon today launched a sustainability website to report on its commitments, initiatives and performance; which will include information on Amazon’s carbon footprint and other sustainability metrics that share its progress towards reaching The Climate Pledge. The new goals, commitments, investments and programs announced today build on Amazon’s previous sustainability programs, including Shipment Zero — Amazon’s vision to make all shipments net zero carbon, with 50 percent net zero carbon by 2030; sustainable packaging initiatives such as Frustration-Free Packaging and Ship in Own Container, which have reduced packaging waste by 25 percent since 2015; and investments in the Closed Loop Fund.