Jeff Bezos unveils Amazon's sweeping plan to address climate change
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a sweeping new plan to tackle climate change at an event held on Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.
Bezos said Amazon has committed to meet the goals of the U.N.’s Paris Agreement 10 years ahead of schedule, as well as measure and reporting the company’s emissions on a regular basis, implement decarbonization strategies and alter its business strategies to offset remaining emissions. He added that his goal is for Amazon to move from its current rate of 40 percent renewable energy to 80 percent renewable energy by 2024, before transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
“We want to use our scale and our scope to lead the way,” Bezos said. “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.”
As part of the announcement, Amazon has agreed to purchase 100,000 electric delivery vans from vehicle manufacturer Rivian. Bezos said the first electric delivery vans will be on the road by 2021 and he estimates 100,000 vehicles will be deployed by 2024. The move builds on Rivian’s $700 million investment round in February, which was led by Amazon.
Amazon will work with companies in its supply chain to help them decarbonize and reach the same goals outlined in the plan. Dara O’Rourke, a senior principal scientist on Amazon’s sustainability team, said the company built a “comprehensive” carbon accounting system that helps it pull data from its various businesses.
“Amazon is as complex as many companies combined,” O’Rourke said. “That forced us to build one of the most sophisticated carbon accounting systems in the world. We had to build a system that had the granular data, but at an Amazon scale.”
Bezos’ appearance comes as Amazon faces mounting pressure from employees to address its environmental impact.
At Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting in May, thousands of employees submitted a proposal asking Bezos to develop a comprehensive climate-change plan and reduce its carbon footprint, though it was ultimately rejected. The proposal was built on an employee letter published in April that accused Amazon of donating to climate-delaying legislators and urged the company to transition away from fossil fuels.
Additionally, over 1,000 Amazon employees have said they plan to walk out on Sept. 20 as part of the Global Climate Strike, of which Google and Microsoft employees also plan to participate. The employee walkout represents the first strike at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters in the company’s 25-year history, according to Wired.
The company has taken previous steps to address climate change. In February, Amazon announced it would make half of all its shipments carbon neutral by 2030 by using more eco-friendly packaging, using more renewable energy like wind power, as well as using electric vans for package deliveries. As part of that effort, which it calls “Shipment Zero,” Amazon said it would share its company-wide carbon footprint for the first time later this year.