Can We Trust Amazon’s Clean Energy Commitment?

Submitted by tlarsen on April 11, 2019
Christian Weidiger

Amazon dominates online retail in the US and cloud-based computing. But the company has not been a leader on climate change, only reluctantly adopting a 100 percent clean energy target for powering its massive servers after pressure from Greenpeace and Green America.

The big problem with Amazon’s commitment is that the corporate giant never said when it would get to 100 percent renewable energy, unlike many other tech companies who set clear targets and already achieved them.

Over the past four years, with continued consumer pressure, Amazon has slowly moved to using 50 percent clean energy, but then that progress stalled. Greenpeace recently issued a scathing report that called out Amazon for continuing to build servers in Virginia that are powered by fossil fuels.

Now, Amazon’s commitment to a cleaner cloud is being called further into question. Online tech news site Gizmodo just published an explosive exposé showing that Amazon is actively courting business from the largest oil and gas companies to put the power of Amazon’s giant servers to work to make it easier to drill for fossil fuels. Amazon aims to make millions or billions of dollars. The resulting climate impacts will exact a huge cost on all the rest of us, in the form of extreme weather, failing crops, and social instability.

Amazon did announce a handful of new windfarms this week as well.  But only one of them is in the US, and it will not be enough to get Amazon anywhere near 100 percent clean energy soon.

Amazon's failure to take climate change seriously was highlighted in a rare public letter signed onto by 4,500 company employees calling on the company to do more to add clean energy, green the company's delivery fleet, provide meaningful climate targets, and be more transparent.  Despite this rousing call from his own employee's, Jeff Bezos' annual letter to shareholders, issued the day after the employee letter, fails to mention climate change or clean energy.

We Need to Use Our Collective Consumer Power to Move Amazon

So, the record is clear.  We can’t trust Amazon to address climate change.  So, what can we do?

1. Take our business elsewhere. Before Amazon, we all somehow managed to get the things we needed in life.  And, if we break free of shopping on Amazon, we would likely buy less stuff, and direct our purchases to more small and green retailers.

2. Cancel Amazon Prime if you have it.  Amazon Prime, with its free shipping, is the hook that keeps us going back to Amazon.  If you cancel Prime, you’ll be less inclined to shop with Amazon.

3. Share the news with friends. The more people who hear that Amazon is not a responsible company, the more people who will take their shopping elsewhere. After you take the action below, share that too. 

4. Take our new action on Amazon. We’re asking the company to get to 100 percent clean energy and drop its support for the oil and gas industry. 

The only way a company like Amazon improves is by hearing its customers are concerned. So make sure to use your consumer power to let Amazon know you expect more from the company.  

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