Amazon employees demand company plan for climate change
A few thousand Amazon employees have released a public letter addressed to company leadership, urging them to adopt a plan for climate change, and end any dependence on fossil fuels.
“Tech workers know the world is facing a climate emergency that is causing devastation to communities around the world, and vulnerable communities least responsible for the climate crisis are already paying the highest price,” said Emily Cunningham in a statement. “We have a responsibility, as one of the largest companies in the world, to account for the sizeable contributions we are making toward accelerating climate change.”
Cunningham is a user experience designer who signed the letter. She is also a member of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of company employees that formed from a shareholder resolution in December. The resolution was co-filed by 28 current and former employees.
This week’s letter — signed by more than 3,500 Amazon employees in less than 48 hours — urges Jeff Bezos and the Amazon board of directors to adopt the climate plan. The employee group will continue collecting signatures before a shareholder meeting in May. The aim is to get company leadership to commit to more aggressive plan to counter climate change.
Public letter to Amazon leaders
After the resolution was introduced in December, the employee group has met with company officials. They say they have not garnered support for the plan. They further allege that company leaders will oppose the resolution with a statement arguing against it in a shareholder ballot.
In fact, the letter points out that Amazon Web Services has been tasked with helping fossil fuel companies more efficiently search for, and extract, oil and gas.
According to Wednesday’s statement from the employee group, they are demanding:
- Public goals and timelines to reduce emissions that are consistent with science and the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
- A complete transition off of fossil fuels rather than relying on carbon offsets.
- Prioritizing climate impacts in business decisions, including ending partnerships with fossil fuel companies that accelerate oil and gas exploration and extraction.
- Reducing harm caused by Amazon operations to vulnerable communities first.
- Advocacy for local, federal, and international policies to reduce carbon emissions and withholding support from policy makers who delay action on climate change.
- Fair treatment of all employees during extreme weather events linked to climate change.
Amazon has made strides toward combating carbon pollution and addressing climate change. The company has started an effort called “Shipment Zero” which aims to make 50 percent of all shipments carbon neutral by 2030.
“Amazon’s Shipment Zero announcement is a first step, and it showed the positive impact that employee pressure can have,” said Maren Costa, a Principal User Experience Designer who co-filed the resolution and signed the letter.
But Costa and other employees argue that more needs to be done.
“Amazon needs a company-wide plan that matches the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, and Shipment Zero is not nearly enough,” Costa said. “That’s why we’re asking all Amazon workers to join us by signing our letter to Jeff Bezos and the Board.”
Amazon has also recently invested in wind farms in Ireland, Sweden, and Southern California. The wind power is slated to provide power for Amazon Web Services’ data centers. The centers used 50 percent clean energy in 2018, according to GeekWire.