Across the globe Friday, students and employees are walking out of schools and businesses in a Global Climate Strike to urge leaders to get serious about fighting climate change. And that includes Amazon, where more than 1,500 employees have pledged to walk out. 

It looks like their efforts may already be yielding results. 

The strikers' announced goals include Amazon switching to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. And lo and behold, Jeff Bezos--who has never been one to lag behind an important trend--called a press conference yesterday to announce...that Amazon would use 100 percent green energy by 2030, among other actions to help fight climate change. 

That's an impressive 10 years earlier than the goal stated in the Paris Climate Accords. 

From climate laggard to climate leader

Previous to Bezos's big announcement, Amazon hasn't been seen as a particularly green company. Despite some efforts to lower the carbon footprint of its massive logistics operation, Amazon "has been harshly criticized for not sharing how much carbon it emits," Quartz notes

That foot dragging clearly didn't sit well with a vocal group of employees, nor possibly with some of the highly skilled individuals Amazon seeks to recruit. It also flew in the face of a recent Business Roundtable pledge, signed by 181 CEOs including Bezos, that companies would no longer focus only on benefiting shareholders, but also on other stakeholders, including presumably the earth and all of us who depend on it for survival. 

With the mood shifting on climate change, Bezos reacted yesterday, announcing not only that the company would move from using 40 percent renewable energy today to 100 percent by 2030, but pledging to take other actions as well: 

  • Moving to net zero carbon for 50 percent of Amazon shipments by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040.

  • Putting 10,000 electric delivery vehicles from U.S. startup Rivian on the road as early as 2022 and 100,000 by 2030. 

  • Investing $100 million in the Right Now Climate Fund, which supports reforestation and wetland restoration projects. 

  • A new website to report on the company's progress towards its sustainability goals. 

A call to action for other businesses 

In announcing the new measures, Bezos urged other, smaller businesses to follow suit. 

"We want to use our scale and our scope to lead the way," Bezos said. "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."

Plenty of other companies seem to be getting the message that it's time for business to get serious about climate change. Here's a list of all the companies participating in today's Climate Strike from our sister publication Fast Company

Published on: Sep 20, 2019
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