One year after the walkout, current and former workers who spoke with WIRED say Amazon should still be doing more to reduce its impact on the environment. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice has demanded that the company commit to reaching zero carbon emissions by 2030, a far more ambitious agenda than the one Bezos announced last year.“We thought when the Climate Pledge came out that Amazon was getting ready to lead on climate,” says one of the workers, who, like all current employees in this story, asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly. “It seems like there are other companies leading the way more than Amazon is.”
The WIRED Guide to Climate Change
The world is getting warmer, the weather is getting worse. Here's everything you need to know about what humans can do to stop wrecking the planet.Microsoft has said that it wants to be “carbon negative” within the next decade, promising to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits. Apple plans for its entire supply chain to be carbon neutral by 2030. Google committed to achieving zero emissions by 2030, meaning it will cease emitting carbon into the atmosphere completely. Even Walmart says it will achieve zero emissions by 2040. Amazon, on the other hand, has promised only to become “net” zero within the same timeframe—a strategy that typically relies on offset projects to make up for continuing to use fossil fuels.
A spokesperson for Amazon characterized the Climate Pledge as a bold goal and said that, unlike many tech companies, Amazon needs to account for the carbon footprint generated by shipping products around the world. As Amazon continues to grow and acquire more planes, delivery vans, and computer servers, its emissions levels are also always increasing, making it harder for the company to lessen its environmental impact.
Amazon also denied that any of its work on sustainability or climate change was influenced by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice. The spokesperson pointed to a recent Bloomberg News story reporting that Amazon’s head of sustainability, Kara Hurst, told executives in 2016—before the worker activism began—that the company could “meet aggressive climate targets without breaking promises to customers.” The article also notes, however, that Hurt’s team interpreted the work of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice as a sign of growing concern among customers about climate issues.Even as Amazon made progress on the environment over the past year, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice repeatedly found itself in the company’s crosshairs. Two AECJ leaders, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, were fired earlier this year after circulating a petition demanding more protections for Amazon warehouse workers during the coronavirus pandemic. “We terminated these employees not for talking publicly about sustainability working conditions or safety but rather for repeatedly violating internal policies,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
They want Amazon to stop donating to politicians and lobbying groups that deny the reality of climate change, to stop working with oil and gas companies to optimize fossil fuel extraction, and to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030.They also created a video featuring workers who plan to join the walkout.
In an Monday, the world’s richest man committed $10 billion of his personal fortune to set up the new Bezos Earth Fund, which would support “scientists, activists, NGOs—any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” The announcement was light on specifics, and it’s not clear yet how the money will be spent .