Amazon’s investments in renewable energy have slowed over the past few years, while other tech companies have renewed their commitments to a renewable energy future. In 2014, Amazon joined several other tech giants in committing to powering its operations with renewable energy. Amidst criticism over work culture, Amazon’s failure to commit green energy doesn’t seem to be doing its public image any favors.
Amazon’s broken promise
Since 2016, Amazon has failed to announce any new renewable energy investments. Worse yet, Amazon has abandoned some of its investments in wind farms while pursuing involvement with oil and gas companies. It appears as though Amazon has once again put up a facade of corporate social responsibility. Jeff Bezos has publicly cracked open a champagne bottle on a wind farm and joined Bill Gates’s multi-billion dollar renewable investment fund.
But, in terms of energy, what has Amazon been up to lately?
Turns out, Amazon hasn’t been doing the renewable energy industry any favors. On the other hand, oil and gas are having a field day. Amazon has partnered with BP, Shell, Halliburton, and other oil and natural gas companies to provide them with data services.
In several executive presentations, Amazon has made it clear that they are looking to further expand their services into the technologically advancing oil and gas industries. Of course, Amazon’s ultimate goal is to drive profits, but in doing so, Amazon seems to have abandoned its promise to promote green energy.
Tech Trends in Oil and Gas
Amazon and other tech companies have been providing oil companies with new data-based technology to increase drilling and oil-well-finding efficiency. Increase the profitability of outdated oil drilling processes represents huge value, and the market is taking note. Microsoft and Google have also followed in Amazon’s footsteps by making deals with oil and gas companies.
It’s hard to say whether providing oil companies with efficient technology will have a meaningful impact on climate change. However, if oil and gas become more profitable, it could be bad news for renewable energy. With so much money to be made in the oil and gas industry, will any tech companies be willing to resist the allure?
Other Companies Doing Good
Luckily, there’s some good news for renewable energy. Apple has persuaded one of its manufacturing partners, Foxconn, to use clean energy. Foxconn now joins a list of over a dozen other Apple suppliers who have committed to using renewable energy. Manufacturing accounts for about 74% of Apple’s carbon footprint so the Foxconn agreement is a huge step in the right direction. Apple plans for their supply chain to use green energy to cover five gigawatts of their energy needs.
While many tech giants are pushing into oil and gas, renewable energy investments are still skyrocketing. Companies like Apple and Google are still growing renewable energy usage, and increased investor pressure will drive this trend going forward. Nowadays, some investors look for more than just profits. They want to see companies generate profit in sustainable ways.
Numerous investment funds have opened ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) branches that only invest in socially responsible companies. Hopefully, pressure from investors will dissuade companies like Amazon from pushing further into the oil and gas industries.
Austin is an Editor for the Agribusiness section at The Rising and an Economics student at the University of Chicago.