‘Amazon sustainability’

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Amazon.com is the 4th largest company in the world, with a market cap of $1.696 trillion. In 2020 the giant generated $386 billion, yet this Pandemic-fuelled growth was at the expense of a 19% rise in carbon emissions. Amazon’s activities emitted the equivalent of 60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020, up 15% from 2019. Amazon’s increase in sales over the Pandemic also produced 599 million pounds of plastic waste, a 29% increase from 2019. 23.5 million pounds of this made its way into waterways, and an estimated 535.215 million pounds were either incinerated or dumped in landfills (assuming 7% was recycled). What’s worrying is that this data is coming a mere year after Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge.

The Climate Pledge

The Climate Pledge, created in 2019, is Amazon’s commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across its business by 2040, and is a stepping stone in their mission to be Earth’s most ‘customer-centric’ company. As well as reaching their overarching target of net zero in the next 20 years, Amazon also aims to…

  • Make operations 100% powered by renewable energy by 2025
  • Make 50% of all shipments net-zero carbon by 2030
  • Deploy 100,000 custom electric delivery vehicles by 2030
  • Invest $2 billion to support the development of decarbonizing technologies and services
  • Invest $100 million in reforestation projects and climate mitigation solutions

What did Amazon achieve in 2020?

Whilst setting these targets looks good on paper, actually achieving these targets is what matters, and Amazon’s aforementioned performance in 2020 has lead to lots of speculation around whether change will actually be made.

Fortunately, 2020 also saw lots of progressive change by the corporation amid the rise in emissions. In 2020, Amazon became the worlds largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, making 65% of their energy renewable across their business. This involved 274 Global Renewable Energy Projects, 105 of them being Utility-scale solar and wind projects and 169 being On-site solar systems, increasing their total renewable capacity to 12,000 MW. These projects aren’t just restricted to the US either, Amazon’s largest renewable investment as of June 2021 being a wind project in the Netherlands, estimated to power the companies operations in Europe with 380 MW. Amazon already operates thousands of electric vehicles worldwide too, delivering more than 20 million packages in electric vehicles to customers across North America and Europe in 2020.

Furthermore, whilst absolute emissions grew, Amazon lowered its carbon intensity by 16% in 2020, which is in line with internal targets.

Closing remarks

If we are to achieve the Paris Agreements target, Businesses – which hold the most economic and political power in our modern day – need to lead the charge and take the most accountability. Whilst it seems that Amazon is actually making great strides towards the target, they can’t fight this battle alone.

What Amazon are doing however is setting a crucial example for other businesses to follow. Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and executive chair, stated that ‘We’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference. If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon-which delivers more than 10 billion items a year-can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can’.

Sources

  • https://news.yahoo.com/environmental-group-says-amazons-plastic-174559863.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cucmVkZGl0LmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAADGx9q5s0LqVRTT_tdRNMkRpzjduc3PLM-8rjqHWLL963n1pZMFfywYqeavMCymFjmPw10bOvMvRwlXyxMdfiHpTQJW-EJT66EIUQgV2zimn-h4yimJZeMHt83LB7F4i0snlCiBOTW8SU9NYR4dF-2lq1pwnHwHq3RoLtHt_rxmI
  • https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/30/amazon-says-carbon-emissions-rose-19percent-in-2020.html
  • https://sustainability.aboutamazon.com/about/the-climate-pledge

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