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Amazon withholds its emissions data from the public (again). What does it have to hide?

Amazon withholds its emissions data from the public (again). What does it have to hide?

Steven Li

Amazon recently made rounds in the media when over 8,000 of its employees signed onto a petition to get the company to tackle climate change. The e-commerce giant’s board of directors rejected the proposal. Now, Amazon has reportedly filed to withhold its emissions data from Australia’s general public. So, what does the company have to hide?

Why is Amazon Withholding the Data?

Amazon sent in an application to the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator (CER) in order to keep its emissions data private. Based on the application obtained by ABC, Amazon cites concerns over disclosing trade secrets and a “matter of commercial value” to justify its application.

More specifically, Amazon states, “Release of the information contained in this application would negatively affect Amazon’s competitive position and impact our legitimate interests.”

Amazon claimed that it would eventually power its cloud services entirely with renewable energy.
Amazon claimed that it would eventually power its cloud services entirely with renewable energy.

Just three months ago, the company claimed it would venture into new renewable energy initiatives. Also, it would allegedly power its cloud services entirely with renewable energy. That begs the question:

“How would anyone ever be able to verify if and when that will happen without the data?”

An interesting question: one that a company woefully off-track from its sustainability targets might never want to be answered.

Amazon Receives Intense Backlash

Pundits simply aren’t buying it. Dr. Tanya Notley, who lectures at Western Sydney University agrees Amazon’s statements are hypocritical, calling the company’s statements “ridiculous.”

She further rebukes the e-commerce giant’s claims, mentioning it shouldn’t be allowed to both hide its sustainability statistics while claiming it’s on track to be sustainable.

Kate McKenzie of the Centre for Policy Development might have been harsher. She said of Amazon’s decision to not disclose carbon emissions data:

See Also

“It’s almost a bare minimum you could do to try and look like you’re taking climate change seriously,” she said. She’s right.

Several other big tech companies, including Google and Microsoft, have chosen to disclose this data. You can’t help but think that Google and Microsoft have tons of proprietary projects too, but at least they haven’t hidden their emissions statistics.

Conclusions

As the public continues to poke at Amazon’s inaction on climate change and environmental sustainability, Amazon can’t keep stalling.

Over 8000 Amazon employees have banded together in an organization called "Amazon Employees for Climate Justice"
Over 8000 Amazon employees have banded together in an organization called “Amazon Employees for Climate Justice”

There isn’t much to assume about why Amazon is withholding its emissions data. And if the company believes it has nothing to hide, it may as well release its numbers as soon as possible for everyone to see.

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