Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos commits to climate change

The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has announced that the company is committed to tackling climate change.

In cooperation with Global Optimism, Amazon presented The Climate Pledge. Amazon has become the first signatory of the pledge. The Climate Pledge is calling on signatories to be net-zero carbon across their businesses by the year 2040. This is a decade earlier than the initial Paris Agreement goal of 2050.

The Paris climate agreement of 2015 aims to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius and to reduce man-made emissions by 2050. Back in 2017, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord.

For its part, Amazon has pledged to measure and to report its emissions regularly. It also promoted to implement decarbonization strategies and to change its business strategies to offset remaining emissions.

“We want to use our scale and our scope to lead the way. One of the things we know about Amazon as a role model for this is that it’s a difficult challenge for us because we have deep, large physical infrastructure. So, if we can do this, anyone can do this,” said Bezos.

By 2024, Bezos is expecting 80% of Amazon’s energy use should be coming from renewable sources. This is an increase from its current 40% rate. By 2030, it expects to transition to zero emissions.

Amazon also calls on other companies to sign the pledge and to commit to having zero carbon emissions by 2040.

At this press event announcing Amazon’s commitment to climate change, Jeff Bezos was joined by Christiana Figueres, who is a former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“We are incredibly grateful that Jeff is doing this. We’re not playing house anymore. This really now is an emergency,” Figueres said.

During the announcement, Bezos also revealed that Amazon will be buying 100,000 electric delivery vans from electric truck and SUV start-up, Rivian. In February, Amazon led the $700 million investment round for Rivian, investing $400 million in the company.

The first Amazon electric delivery vans are set to be on the road by 2021. Bazos is estimating that by 2024, there would be 100,000 vehicles deployed on the streets.

For Amazon to be able to reach its goals in the plan, it will be working with companies in its supply chain to help them decarbonize. Amazon hopes to meet with some of the biggest companies in the world and convince them to commit to the agreement.

Amazon and Bezos have been facing growing pressure from employees who want them to address environmental impact issues.

In May, during Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting, thousands of employees presented a proposal asking Bezos to come up with an extensive climate-change plan and reduce the company’s carbon footprint. However, the proposal was rejected.

The said proposal was born out of an employee letter addressed to Amazon and Bezos. The letter was the biggest employee-driven initiative against climate risk from the tech industry. It was signed by about 4,520 employees.

“Amazon has the resources and scale to spark the world’s imagination and redefine what is possible and necessary to address the climate crisis. We believe this is a historic opportunity for Amazon to stand with employees and signal to the world that we’re ready to be a climate leader,” the employee letter addressed to the Amazon’s board of directors and CEO Jeff Bezos reads.

Despite Bezos’ pronouncement, this won’t stop over 1,000 Amazon employees from their planned walkout scheduled on Friday. This is part of the Global Climate Strike. Employees from Microsoft and Google are also planning to participate.

The walkout on Friday would mark the first strike at the company’s Seattle headquarters in its 25-year history.

Bezos was asked about the walks out and he said that while he doesn’t support it and the demands of the employees, he understands people and their passion to fight for climate change.

“The global strike tomorrow, I think it’s totally understandable. We don’t want this to be the tragedy of the commons. We all have to work together on this,” adds Bezos.

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