Amazon has announced it is making “big changes to protect the planet” through its commitment to a new sustainability initiative. The Climate Pledge aims for signatories to achieve net zero carbon emissions across their business operations by 2040 (10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement goal). The announcement comes just in time for the protests on climate change by the world’s youth.
Amazon’s initiative seeks to increase renewable energy across all business operations (100% by 2030) and achieve net zero carbon shipments (50% by 2030). The company has also released a new Supply Chain Standards Manual as part of a commitment to “social responsibility” within this sustainability initiative.
While efforts to ensure lawful and ethical conduct in its global supply chain are commendable (recall the warehouse horror stories), and the Climate Pledge may provide a needed nudge for other industries, we ask for more. Notably absent are measures to improve the enormous amount of economic inequality to which Amazon contributes. Even with a recent wage hike to a $15 per hour minimum, those employees still earn a salary below the national median. According to Money.com, in 2018, CEO Jeff Bezos’ total compensation was nearly $1.7 million. That year, Bezos’ stock in Amazon was worth $125 billion. Additionally, Amazon paid a total of $0 in federal taxes on an annual profit of $11.2 billion (and instead received a refund of $129 million). It seems appropriate that Amazon use this surplus to invest in sustainable initiatives.
Time will tell how Amazon performs with respect to their stated goals. We know its a step in the right direction. And we can only hope that some of the world’s top polluters join the Climate Pledge and adopt the science-based methods that Amazon is touting.
Katie (Basil Contributor)