Jeff Bezos Pledges Amazon Carbon Neutrality by 2040

Jeff Bezos - Getty - H 2019
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The announcement comes as 1,500 employees are planning to walk out for the Global Climate Strike.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pledged on Thursday to make his company carbon neutral by 2040 through a new Climate Pledge. Amazon is the first signatory of the pact, which would meet the goals of the United Nations Paris Agreement 10 years ahead of schedule.

At the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Bezos unveiled his $100 million reforestation program with the Nature Conservancy and a plan for 100,000 new electric delivery vehicles from Rivian by 2024. The first electric cars will be deployed by 2021.

He said 80 percent of Amazon’s energy use will come from renewable sources by 2024 and 100 percent by 2030 (compared with the current 40 percent).

“We want to use our scale and our scope to lead the way,” Bezos said, according to CNBC. “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.”

The news comes as more than 1,500 Amazon employees are preparing for a walkout Friday for the Global Climate Strike, the first strike for Seattle workers in the company's 25-year history. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, 16, is leading the protest in New York.

"Amazon employees are deeply concerned about the climate crisis, and we see how it's impacting our lives," said Danilo Quilaton, a product designer at Twitch, a subsidiary of Amazon, to Business Insider. "The climate walkout is about showing Amazon that employees want to make climate justice central to our business and show real climate leadership." 

More than 8,000 employees also signed an open letter in April to ask for a company-wide climate change plan of action.

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, which is leading Friday's strike, reacted to Bezos’ Climate Pledge on Thursday, tweeting, “Amazon’s Climate Pledge is a huge win...we’re thrilled at what workers have achieved in under a year. But we know it’s not enough. The Paris Agreement, by itself, won’t get us to a livable world. Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we’ll be in the streets.” The account tweeted: “Amazon still has work to do: halting its support of the fossil fuel industry, stopping donations to climate-denying politicians and think tanks, and stopping enabling the oppression of climate refugees.”

The youth-led protest will still continue “to celebrate our victory.”

Global leaders will meet in New York on Monday for the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit to try to address “the global climate emergency,” according to the UN. President Donald Trump is not expected to attend; he appeared at a Beverly Hills fundraiser Sept. 17. 

At Thursday’s event, Bezos said he will invite other companies to join his pledge, which would require them to report their emissions regularly. He worked with Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat with experience as executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, on the plan to protect the planet. “Impossible to do this without @CFigueres. So grateful to you, Christiana,” Bezos tweeted.