More Than 5,000 Amazon Employees Push For Aggressive Company Action On Climate Change

Amazon protests last year outside Amazon's potential headquarters HQ2 building in Long Island City, New York, where residents pushed back against plans to build new headquarters. SCOOTERCASTER/Shutterstock

In a public letter addressed to Jeff Bezos and Amazon's Board of Directors, more than 5,230 Amazon employees ask management to “adopt the climate plan shareholder resolution and release a company-wide climate plan” that addresses growing concerns over the trillion-dollar company’s impact on the planet, citing Amazon’s potential to become a “climate leader”.

The letter is in reaction to meetings with Amazon leadership in which employees asked for a company-wide climate plan, according to a press release from the shareholder group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice. It cites an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C (2.7F°) above pre-industrial levels, which we are well on track to surpass. This warming will threaten the homes and livelihoods of millions of people and put thousands of species at risk.

“Amazon is one of the world’s largest and most recognized brands reaching homes in almost every corner of the globe. That’s huge. As shareholder owners and employees, we recognize the massive responsibility we have to the public,” program manager Rachel Thomas told IFLScience. “Amazon encourages its employees to think bigger, break barriers, and earn trust. We don’t wait for someone to set the example for us in any aspect of business we pioneer. So why should the fight to save our planet be any different?”

Signatories ask that the company provides deeper context for sustainability goals, by not only setting a deadline for completing its 100 percent renewable energy goal but also reaching 50 percent net-zero shipments by 2030. Additionally, employees request that shipment procedures go beyond offsetting emissions with carbon credits to directly reduce pollution caused by diesel delivery vans. They also point out that Amazon's promise to have at least 50 solar installations in its warehouses by 2020 only encompasses 6 percent of buildings in its global fulfillment network. 

“By presenting this shareholder proposal to the Board, we’re asking our leaders to yet again pioneer. To set the example for the world," said Thomas. "We’re asking our leaders to hold themselves and our company accountable, think bigger, break barriers, and earn trust.”

The letter adds that “customer obsession requires climate obsession” by furthering public goals and timelines to be consistent with science and the IPCC report, suggesting that the company: cuts emissions in half by 2030 from 2010 levels and reaches zero by 2050; completely transitions from fossil fuels; prioritizes climate impact when making business decisions; reduces harm to the most vulnerable communities first, advocating for local, federal, and international policies that support carbon emission reduction; and treats employees fairly during climate disruptions and extreme weather events.

An Amazon spokesperson responded to Gizmodo's request for comment by including its Shipment Zero initiative, which was described in an emailed statement as “our vision to make all Amazon shipments net zero carbon, with 50 percent of all shipments net zero by 2030,” as well as its pledge to release a “company-wide carbon footprint, along with related goals and programs” this year, among other efforts.

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