Amazon just announced that it plans to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years early. This morning, CEO Jeff Bezos explained that Amazon will measure and report emissions on a regular basis, work to cut carbon emissions, and use offsets for any remaining emissions. He said that the company would move to 100% renewable electricity—something that it has previously pledged to do—and purchase 100,000 electric delivery vans, among other actions. “We want to use our scale and our scope to lead the way,” Bezos said at a press conference. “We have to do it.”
Amazon gets about 40% of its energy from renewable sources today. That will move to 80% by 2024 and 100% by 2030, Bezos said. The 100,000 vehicles will come from a company called Rivian, in which Amazon has already invested $700 million. The company says it will have 10,000 of the vehicles on the road as early as 2022, and the full amount by 2030. The company will also invest $100 million in reforestation efforts and it launched a new site to give information about its efforts. Bezos also announced a new climate pledge for businesses, calling for all companies to meet the benchmark of hitting the Paris goals 10 years early.
“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,” Bezos said in a press release. “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon—which delivers more than 10 billion items a year—can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can.”
The announcement comes a day before more than 1,500 Amazon employees are planning to walk out of the company’s global offices to protest Amazon’s lack of climate action during the youth-led Global Climate Strike. The group of workers leading the strike, called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, filed a proposed shareholder resolution last fall asking the company to adopt a shareholder resolution calling for a comprehensive, transparent plan to address climate change. (8,000 workers signed an open letter in April in support of the resolution, but it failed to pass at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.) Employees have criticized the company’s slow pace of action. Amazon set a goal in 2014 to run the company on renewable electricity but had only reached 50% renewables by 2018, even as other tech companies like Google and Apple have shifted to 100% clean energy. It also hasn’t been disclosing its carbon footprint to the nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project, unlike many other companies. The footprint of the company’s shipping, packaging, and data usage is enormous and expanding.
In February, the company announced Shipment Zero, a plan to make half of its shipments carbon neutral by 2030, explaining that shipping technology is transforming in a way that makes that goal possible. But employees argue that Amazon could move faster, and that as a shipping behemoth, it has a responsibility to transform the entire transportation industry. Workers have also criticized the fact that the company has designed custom technology to support the oil and gas industry—at a time when research shows that fossil fuels can’t continue to be extracted if the world is going to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.