Amazon’s Commitment to the Climate Crisis



 

It is undeniable that right now we are still losing our battle against the irrevocable effects of climate change. We are pumping 43 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, wildfires are spreading, countries are not in track to meeting their climate goals from the Paris Agreement (an agreement that was not harsh enough to begin with), and time is running out.

 

We are at a point where radical and ambitious changes are our only option. Changes in our way of living, buying, travelling, but most importantly, changes in the way companies and businesses operate. While the market of sustainable products is rapidly increasing, we need direct and big scale changes at an industry and production level, rather than just consumer level.

 

One company that has started proposing some of these “big scale changes” is Amazon. Over the past few years the company has implemented a number of different proposals that could change every aspect of the way it currently operates.

 

One initiative is called The Climate Pledge, which Amazon co-founded along with Global Optimism in September of 2019.  This pledge is meant to put more responsibility on businesses when it comes to their contribution to the climate change crisis. And over twelve other companies have joined in on the pledge since it was first founded.

 

According to the official website “the Climate Pledge was founded on the conviction that global businesses are responsible, accountable, and able to act on the climate crisis, and that doing so would transform societies and what’s possible with collective action.” It is a relatively ambitious plan, especially considering that all signatories commit to achieving net zero annual carbon emissions by 2040.

 

But there is a difference between having goals and achieving them. It has been almost a year since Amazon released its new plans on the climate crisis, so the question is, how much has Amazon accomplished since?

 

According to its website, this is the list of commitments Amazon has made thus far:

       Net Zero Carbon by 2040

       Deploying technology and people to reach net zero carbon across Amazon by 2040, one decade ahead of the Paris Agreement

       Shipment Zero

       Making all Amazon shipments net-zero carbon through Shipment Zero, with 50% of all shipments net zero carbon by 2030.

       Climate Pledge Fund

        Investing $2 billion to support the development of technologies and services that reduce carbon emissions and help preserve the natural world.

       Right Now Climate Fund

        Investing $100 million in reforestation projects and climate mitigation solutions.

       Electric Delivery Vehicles

       100% Renewable Energy by 2025

 

 

Is Amazon on track to accomplish these goals?

 

Being carbon-free by 2040 means that Amazon will have to look for ways to renovate its entire production chain. From the way in which products are manufactured, all the way to how those products reach the hands of the consumers.

 

Let’s start with the ‘Climate Pledge Friendly’ badge, for example, which was introduced in October of this year in some European countries. This filter places a badge on products that have a lower environmental footprint, and it is meant to make it easier for consumers to spot sustainable products. In addition to the filter, Amazon has also committed to promoting these types of products on its website in all related search results.

 

In its pledge to investing money in different foundations and projects fighting against the effects of climate change, Amazon has formed a partnership with the Nature Conservancy, an environmental organization in Virginia, to work on different Natural Climate Solutions. Along with funding NCS, Amazon has also started to invest in projects such as the Family Forest Carbon Program, the Urban Greening for Climate Resilience, and the Forest Carbon Co-Ops. Some of these programs are the first of their kind and will hopefully help promote biodiversity and implement new forest conservation methods and forest management.

 

At the same time, Amazon has also launched a series of projects to lower its own carbon emissions by turning to renewable energy. According to its website as of June Amazon has built “31 utility-scale wind and solar renewable energy projects, along with 60 solar rooftops on fulfillment centers around the world.” While also purchasing 100,000 electric vehicles from Rivian, the biggest order of electric vehicles so far. These vehicles are expected to be implemented at the beginning of 2021 and will supposedly cut down Amazon’s metric tons of carbons by millions every year.

 

That said, this is still not enough. Amazon’s emission of carbon still increased by 15% in the year 2019, and it will probably take a really long time before any of these plans have enough of a positive effect for it to be significant. And while the actions Amazon is taking to reduce its carbon footprint are cutting-edge, this article is in no way meant to glorify Amazon or any of the companies taking part in the Climate Pledge. We should not praise companies and industries for taking responsibility for issues that they contribute to, because that is just the bare minimum.

 

 

 

 


 

Resources:

       https://hbr.org/2019/06/research-actually-consumers-do-buy-sustainable-products#:~:text=Products%20that%20had%20a%20sustainability,%2C%20up%2029%25%20from%202013.&text=In%20more%20than%2090%25%20of,faster%20than%20their%20conventional%20counterparts.

       https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-insights/perspectives/natural-climate-solutions/

       https://www.forestfoundation.org/family-forest-carbon-program?utm_source=TNC&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=carbon

       https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/who-we-are/how-we-work/working-with-companies/companies-investing-in-nature1/amazon/

       https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/11/nations-miss-paris-targets-climate-driven-weather-events-cost-billions/

       https://sustainability.aboutamazon.com/environment/sustainable-operations/carbon-footprint

       https://www.theclimatepledge.com/carbon-elimination.html

       https://sustainability.aboutamazon.com/about/the-climate-pledge#section-nav-id-2

       https://sustainability.aboutamazon.com/?energyType=true&workerCount=true&engagementProgram=true&productCategory=true