Amazon does "Climate Pledge" as workers plan walkout: NPR

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the company's climate initiative Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Paul Morigi / Getty Images for Amazon

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Paul Morigi / Getty Images for Amazon

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Announces the Company's Climate Initiative Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Paul Morigi / Getty Images for Amazon

Amazon is "done in the middle of the pack" when it comes to climate-focused corporate politics, CEO Jeff Bezos said Thursday.

The company pledges to operate its global infrastructure with 100% renewable energy by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2040. To help there, it plans to purchase 100,000 electric vans from Michigan-based company Rivian, where Amazon previously invested.

Amazon states that the Climate Commitment will fulfill the Paris Agreement 10 years ahead of schedule. The company also invites other companies to sign the pledge.

"It's a difficult challenge for us because we have a deep physical infrastructure. We don't just move information around … we deliver more than 10 billion items a year," Bezos told reporters Thursday. "And so we can come up with the argument – and we plan to make it passionate – that if we can do this, anyone can do it."

Amazon's announcement marks the most sweeping climate-related action by the company, a day before more than 1,500 Seattle workers planned a walkout to draw attention to the criticism of the company's climate policy. Amazon has hunted for other companies – including tech giants like Facebook and Google – to reach the goal of 100% renewable energy and share emissions data.

Amazon workers' planned walkout Friday is part of a series of rallies called Global Climate Strike ahead of Monday's UN Climate Action Summit. Workers complained that the company known for its obsession with data and measurable targets would not share data on its own carbon footprint, and asked Amazon to come to zero emissions by 2030.

"Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow we will be in the streets to continue the fight for a bleak future, "the Amazon climate justice group said in a statement Thursday. The walkout is also expected to draw some workers from Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

Thousands of Amazon employees signed a shareholder resolution earlier this year to set a climate change plan, which did not pass. More than 8,000 workers had also signed an open letter to Bezos asking Amazon to set measurable targets, terminate contracts with oil and gas companies and stop giving to legislators who refuse climate change.

"I think it's perfectly understandable that people are passionate about this problem," Bezos said, adding that Amazon would consider its campaign donations. The company will also invest $ 100 million to restore and protect forests, grasslands and wetlands.

However, Bezos said he disagreed with the employees' call to terminate contracts with energy companies and stop providing them with cloud tools. "Asking oil and energy companies to make this transition with poor tools is not a good idea, and we will not," he said.

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