Thousands of Amazon employees call on CEO Jeff Bezos to tackle climate change

It's the latest example of tech workers organizing to shape company policy.

April 11, 2019, 6:46 PM

More than 5,000 Amazon workers called on founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to tackle climate change in the latest example of tech workers rallying to change company policies from within.

Within a day of posting an open letter to Bezos and the company's board of directors to implement a company-wide plan to combat climate change, 5,237 Amazon employees signed the document, which was posted to Medium on Wednesday.

"Amazon has the resources and scale to spark the world’s imagination and redefine what is possible and necessary to address the climate crisis. We believe this is a historic opportunity for Amazon to stand with employees and signal to the world that we’re ready to be a climate leader," the letter stated.

PHOTO: Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, speaks at The Economic Club of Washington's Milestone Celebration in Washington D.C., Sept. 13, 2018.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, speaks at The Economic Club of Washington's Milestone Celebration in Washington D.C., Sept. 13, 2018.
Cliff Owen/AP, FILE

In an emailed statement to ABC News, an Amazon spokesperson wrote: “Earlier this year, we announced that we will share our company-wide carbon footprint, along with related goals and programs. We also announced Shipment Zero, our vision to make all Amazon shipments net zero carbon, with 50% of all shipments net zero by 2030. Amazon’s sustainability team is using a science-based approach to develop data and strategies to ensure a rigorous approach to our sustainability work."

However, the letter appeared to take issue with the publicly announced Amazon initiatives.

The company has not "disclosed a company-wide plan to reach zero carbon emissions within the timeline required by science," the letter said. "Our goal to reach 100% renewable energy does not have a date for completion. In addition, Shipment Zero does not commit to a decrease in emissions compared to current levels. Given Amazon’s rate of growth, reaching 50% net-zero shipments by 2030 could still be an increase in emissions compared to today."

The employees also took issue with the Amazon Web Services arm, which they said has an initiative devoted to helping fossil fuel companies accelerate and expand oil and gas extraction. The company also donates "to climate-delaying legislators" including 68 members of Congress in 2018 who voted against climate legislation 100% of the time," the letter states.

The authors also underscored the social justice aspect of climate change.

"The pollution we generate is not equally distributed, and climate impact will be felt first and hardest by Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, particularly in the Global South. We must prioritize our pollution reduction in these communities," the letter said.

Amazon employees are following their tech colleagues in protesting company policies publicly.

In November, Google employees around the world walked out of their offices to protest how the company handles sexual misconduct allegations.

A week later, the company dropped its mandatory requirement for sexual harassment and assault cases, allowing for employees to file lawsuits.

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