Amazon employees are joining the Global Climate Walkout, 9/20

1,749* Amazon employees are walking out on September 20, 2019, in support of youth who are calling for a global climate strike.

Amazon employees: visit https://global-climate-walkout.corp.amazon.com/ on the internal network and pledge to walk out with us!

All other supporters: visit https://globalclimatestrike.net/ to join actions in your area!

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Students and young people around the world have been striking on Fridays for a livable planet and bold climate action. Now, they want adults to join them! [1]

As employees at one of the largest and most powerful companies in the world, our role in facing the climate crisis is to ensure our company is leading on climate, not following. We have to take responsibility for the impact that our business has on the planet and on people [2].

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“It’s hard to find an issue that is more important than climate change. The science is super compelling on this: there’s no doubt about it.” These are the words of Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO [3]. And yet: Amazon contributes directly to climate change through intensive use of fossil fuels throughout our businesses and pollutes communities with our fossil fuel infrastructure [4,5,6]; we have custom solutions to help oil and gas companies accelerate extraction and exploration of new oil and gas reserves [7]; we’re funding the premier climate denying think tank and we funded 68 members of Congress in 2018 who voted against climate legislation 100% of the time [8,9,10].

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Amazon must demonstrate real climate leadership by committing to the following:

  1. Zero emissions by 2030:
    Pilot electric vehicles first in communities most impacted by our pollution
  2. Zero custom Amazon Web Services (AWS) contracts for fossil fuel companies to accelerate oil and gas extraction
  3. Zero funding for climate denying lobbyists and politicians

Amazon has the resources and scale to spark the world’s imagination and redefine what is possible and necessary to address the climate crisis. Our walkout on September 20th demonstrates the commitment of Amazon employees and calls on leadership to join us in this commitment.

Zero emissions by 2030

It is critical that Amazon aim to achieve zero emissions company-wide by 2030.

The scientific consensus is that global emissions must be cut by half by 2030 and all emissions must be cut to net zero by 2050 (this still only gives us a 50% chance to stay under 1.5C of global warming) [11]. However, nations like the US, which have polluted far more than our fair share, must reach zero much faster for the world to have a reasonable chance of hitting emission targets [12,13,14]. Amazon, via Shipment Zero, has only committed to reducing 50% of its shipments to net zero by 2030. And even that 50% does not necessarily mean a decrease in emissions compared to current levels: given Amazon’s rate of growth, 50% net-zero shipments in 2030 could still be an increase in emissions compared to today.

Amazon is one of the world’s most innovative companies. We pride ourselves on being a leader. But in the face of the climate crisis, a true leader is one who reaches zero emissions first, not one who slides in at the last possible moment.

We know that reaching zero emissions by 2030 won’t be easy. But this is not the time to shy away from the challenge. We recognize it takes time for technology to develop: short-haul electric shipping already exists, and short-haul electric flights are coming soon (Norway has mandated that all domestic flights be electric by 2040 and Vancouver-based Harbour Air is switching its seaplanes to 100% electric); long-haul flights and tankers may take longer [15,16,17]. But a company with the innovation, boldness, and resources of Amazon should be at the forefront of driving this transformation of our economy that the climate crisis requires. A commitment from Amazon has the power to move industries. Investment by the company in electrified aviation or maritime shipping would be a game-changer.

We announced Prime and two-day shipping about a decade after the company was founded. We’ve demonstrated that we can develop a massive logistics network that achieves speed, but we must put at least that kind of effort, innovation, and multi-year dedication into achieving zero-emissions logistics. We need to set the goal and start laying the groundwork for 2030 now.

Zero custom AWS contracts for fossil fuel companies

Amazon must end its custom contracts with oil and gas companies that accelerate both the extraction of oil and gas and the discovery of new, untapped reserves.

Scientists know that to maintain a stable climate, we cannot develop new sources of oil. To avoid climate catastrophe, we can’t even burn all of the existing oil and gas we already have. The science is clear: fossil fuels must stay in the ground [11].

In blatant disregard for this reality, our custom solutions and contracts for oil and gas companies help them explore and develop new oil wells more quickly. At AWS’ annual conference, we led a session directed at oil and gas customers titled “Predicting the Next Oil Field in Seconds with Machine Learning.” [18]

Given what’s at stake, this is terrifying.

Amazon must stop accelerating climate change: we must end end our contracts and custom solutions for fossil fuel companies.

Zero funding for climate denying lobbyists and politicians

We are funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the Koch-backed premier climate-denial “think tank,” which has led decades-long efforts to sow disbelief in the existence of human-caused climate change. Some highlights: CEI is currently working closely with the Trump administration to attack and roll back the Clean Power Plan and was instrumental in convincing Trump to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement. [8,9]

Additionally, in 2018, we funded 68 members of Congress in 2018 who voted against climate legislation 100% of the time. [10]

*We will update the total number of employees pledging to walk out periodically.

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References

[1] “‘We need everyone’: Greta Thunberg calls on adults to join climate strikes” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/23/we-need-everyone-youth-activists-call-on-adults-to-join-climate-strikes

[2] “Environmental Justice in Warehousing Location: State of the Art” Journal of Planning Literature https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322898772_Environmental_Justice_in_Warehousing_Location_State_of_the_Art

[3] Response from Jeff Bezos to AECJ’s Question Amazon’s Annual Shareholder Meeting
https://www.instagram.com/tv/Bxy3NotHvAT/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

[4] “Amazon orders 20K vans for last-mile delivery program” https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/amazon-20000-vans-mercedes-benz-delivery-last-mile/531732/

[5] “The town that online shopping built — and women are trying to save” https://grist.org/article/san-bernardino-county-california-air-pollution-logistics-industry/

[6] “Diesel Engines and Public Health” https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/vehicles-air-pollution-and-human-health/diesel-engines#.W_RD7hNKjfa

[7] “Amazon Is Aggressively Pursuing Big Oil as It Stalls Out on Clean Energy” https://gizmodo.com/amazon-is-aggressively-pursuing-big-oil-as-it-stalls-ou-1833875828

[8] “Following the Money that Undermines Climate Science” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/10/climate/nyt-climate-newsletter-cei.html

[9] “Amazon is funding premier climate denial ‘think tank’” https://medium.com/@amazonemployeesclimatejustice/amazon-is-funding-premier-climate-denial-think-tank-8f657b5c9922

[10] We compared Amazon campaign contributions with the League of Conservation Voters National Environmental Scorecard

[11] “The Sky’s Limit and the IPCC Report on 1.5 Degrees of Warming” http://priceofoil.org/2018/10/17/the-skys-limit-ipcc-report-15-degrees-of-warming/

[12] “Why the US bears the most responsibility for climate change, in one chart” https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/4/24/18512804/climate-change-united-states-china-emissions

[13] “New Studies Highlight Challenge of Meeting Paris Agreement Goals” https://news.agu.org/press-release/new-studies-highlight-challenge-of-meeting-paris-agreement-climate-goals/

[14] “Global Rules Mask the Mitigation Challenge Facing Developing Countries” https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2018EF001078

[15] “A new all-electric cargo ship with a massive 2.4 MWh battery pack launches in China” https://electrek.co/2017/12/04/all-electric-cargo-ship-battery-china/

[16] “Electric Aviation is Poised for a Revolution — And It’s About Time” https://psmag.com/environment/cop24-electric-aviation-is-poised-for-a-revolution-and-its-about-time

[17] “Harbour Air to add zero-emission electric plane; aims to convert whole fleet” https://vancouversun.com/business/energy/harbour-air-to-add-zero-emission-electric-plane-aims-to-convert-whole-fleet

[18] “Amazon Web Services re:Invent, Nov 26 — Nov 30, 2018, Interactive attendee guide for Oil & Gas Professionals” https://d1.awsstatic.com/Industries/Oil/2018reinventoilandgasguide.pdf

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