WASHINGTON, DC – March 24, 2020 – In the face of mounting public pressure, Amazon announced new plans to use more clean energy to power its computing subsidiary Amazon Web Services (AWS), which it says will keep the company on track to meet its goal of reaching 100% renewable energy use by 2030. The retailing giant announced plans for four new renewable energy projects to power its data centers – an announcement that came only after intense activism on the part of Green America, the nation’s leading green economy organization, and allied groups.
In 2014, Green America launched its Build a Cleaner Cloud campaign urging Amazon to shift to renewable energy to power its cloud computing services and protect workers in their warehouses and supply chain. Consumers involved in the campaign canceled their Amazon Prime subscriptions, stopped shopping on Amazon.com, and sent messages directly to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the company. More than 42,000 consumers joined in the Green America push, which was the largest of its kind.
Historically, Amazon has not been a leader on climate change. After years of intense consumer pressure, Amazon finally reached 50% renewable energy use in 2018. Last year, Amazon adopted a 100% clean energy target for powering its widely used AWS cloud computing operation. Data centers require vast amounts of power to operate and are a major contributor to climate change. Amazon’s adoption of renewable energy, and use of unbundled RECs, means the company still trails competitors like Microsoft and Google.
Charlotte Tate, manager of Labor Justice Campaigns at Green America, said: “The new announcement is further evidence than when consumers, workers, and small businesses come together, we can hold even the largest corporations accountable. Green America is committed to maintaining pressure on Amazon until it addresses its practices that are harmful to both workers and the planet.”
Todd Larsen, executive co-director of Consumer and Corporate Engagement at Green America, said: “Despite AWS's prominence in the cloud computing space, the company has not kept pace with competitors in terms of renewable energy use. While Amazon has committed to 100% clean energy by 2030, other companies are getting there much faster. The climate crisis is impacting us now. While this announcement is a step in the right direction, ten years is too long to wait for one of the world’s richest companies to catch up on renewable energy.”
Last year, 4,500 Amazon employees signed an open letter to Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s Board calling for the company to address climate change by adding more clean energy and getting to its 100% clean energy goal, greening the company's delivery fleet, providing meaningful climate targets, and being more transparent in its climate and environmental reporting. The company has threatened to fire employees if they continue to speak out.
While Amazon has made progress on renewable energy use, worker safety remains a concern. In the current context, Amazon needs to meet its workers’ demands to protect their safety. Amazon should provide paid sick leave that is not limited to those that test positive for COVID-19 as testing within the US remain difficult to access. In addition, Amazon should cover the cost of health care and testing for any employee or contractor that has potentially been exposed. This week Amazon logistics workers scored a victory when the company agreed to provide paid time off to them. The company needs to build on that action and fully protect all its workers.
ABOUT GREEN AMERICA
Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems. http://www.GreenAmerica.org
MEDIA CONTACT: Max Karlin for Green America, (703) 276-3255, or firstname.lastname@example.org.