Fifty-two new companies have signed Amazon’s Climate Pledge, committing to neutralize their carbon emissions by 2040, including Seattle-based Alaska Airlines as well as PepsiCo, Colgate-Palmolive and Visa.
The new crop of members nearly doubles the number of companies that have joined the 2019 Amazon initiative, bringing the total to 105. Signatories agree to measure, report and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to bring their total carbon emissions to net zero by 2040, 10 years ahead of the goal set by the Paris Agreement.
Alaska’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2040 includes championing regulations that would set cleaner fuel standards for aircraft. Washington state lawmakers are racing to pass a clean-fuel standard, a longtime priority of Gov. Jay Inslee, before the end of the legislative session Sunday. Alaska also committed to improve the efficiency of its jet engines, optimize its routes to burn less fuel and explore more sustainable aviation fuels.
“At Alaska Airlines, we know that travel can make a big difference in people’s lives, and we’re committed to operating in a socially and environmentally responsible way,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines’ CEO.
Amazon’s efforts attempts to decarbonize its supply chain include purchasing 100,000 electric delivery vans, buying so much wind and solar power that it’s now the world’s largest corporate consumer of renewable energy, and committing $2 billion to invest in technologies to slow climate change. As a teenager, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos imagined turning the world into a nature preserve; in his most recent letter to shareholders, he laid out a vision for a green economy.
“Smart action on climate change will not only stop bad things from happening, it will also make our economy more efficient, help drive technological change, and reduce risks,” he wrote. “This doesn’t mean it will be easy. It won’t be. The economy in 2030 will need to be vastly different than what it is today, and Amazon plans to be at the heart of the change.”
Critics, though, including from inside the company, have accused Amazon of greenwashing its actual climate impact. Amazon’s metrics for reporting its carbon footprint misrepresent the company’s actual impact on the planet, environmental groups have said. An influential worker organization, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, has said Amazon should focus more on environmental equity, assessing the degree to which its pollution is concentrated in communities of color.
A proposal the group submitted for Amazon’s May 26 shareholder meeting asked Amazon to report on its emissions in areas like California’s Inland Empire, where an Amazon warehouse boom has increased the number of smog-producing trucks on local roads.
“Amazon takes on reputational risk by not addressing its potentially racist impact amidst increased popular attention to environmental justice,” the proposal stated.
Amazon successfully appealed to the Securities and Exchange Commission to bar the proposal from appearing for a vote, arguing it was substantially similar to another proposal that called for a racial equity audit of Amazon’s business practices.