The Rising

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Amazon employees urge Bezos to act on climate change

3 min read
Amazon Employees For Climate Justice

Despite Amazon’s initiatives to act on climate change, Amazon employees call for greater change. In fact, so many employees felt strongly about Amazon’s carbon footprint that an organization was formed.

This organization became the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ). To date, almost 8,000 Amazon employees have signed AECJ’s open letter urging Amazon to more vehemently tackle climate change.

In their letter, employees called for Amazon to limit its reliance on fossil fuels and release a detailed report on how it planned to act upon climate change.

During the company’s annual shareholder meeting, the group called CEO Jeff Bezos to the stage, with plans to directly confront him. To their disappointment, they were told Bezos was unavailable. In reality, he was backstage.

Reaction From The Amazon Board

Amazon’s board of directors rejected the group’s proposal, citing that the company was already taking measures to be more sustainable. AECJ’s resolution was among a dozen presented at the meeting. All twelve of the proposals were voted down.

Following the event, employees said Bezos remained backstage during their entire presentation and declined to speak with them. Later on, the group took to Twitter to express its disheartening experience.

“This is not the kind of leadership we need to address the climate crisis. We need a plan, a commitment to zero carbon emissions. Employees no longer ‘assume’ we’re doing enough. We want to lead the way.”

Beyond Shipment Zero

It’s true the Amazon has aimed to become more sustainable. Earlier this year, Amazon launched Shipment Zero, a plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions for half of its shipments by 2030. Along with this, Amazon plans to share its carbon footprint numbers for the first time this year.

While Shipment Zero might seem like a step in the right direction, AECJ says more needs to be done. “Shipment Zero only commits to net carbon reductions, which allows us to continue to pollute,” employees pointed out in their open letter.

“We recently ordered 20,000 diesel vans whose emissions will need to be offset with carbon credits. Offsets can entail forest management policies that displace indigenous communities […] which disproportionately harms communities of color.”

AECJ’s comments on Amazon’s environmental impact.

Not too long ago, Amazon previously announced its long-term commitment to powering its global infrastructure with 100% renewable energy. So, at the meeting, employees urged the company to publicly release a timeline for its zero-emission goals. Despite this, Amazon has yet to release a deadline for this goal.

Next Steps For AECJ

For members of the AECJ, the fight is far from over. The group vows to mount pressure on Amazon to adopt sustainable practices. Additionally, it plans to refile its resolution for next year’s shareholder meeting.

Rebecca Sheppard, a senior product manager at Amazon, told Gizmodo, “I feel like we’ve won in so many ways already. It was because of our pressure that Amazon said it will announce its carbon footprint for the first time.”

Although AECJ is doing amazing things, it’s going to take much more than one organization to get Amazon to change. Clearly, certain climate resolutions would hurt Amazon’s bottom line. But with such influence, Amazon needs to move beyond smoke and mirrors and into action. It’ll be up to both Amazon employees and customers to make it happen.