SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Hundreds of workers from Google, Amazon and other technology companies joined the climate change marches in San Francisco and Seattle on Friday, saying their employers had been too slow to cope with global warming and needed to take more drastic action.
People protest during a climate strike march in San Francisco, USA September 20, 2019. REUTERS / Kate Munsch
While students set the global agenda and led local marches, US West Coast technology workers said they showed up in support and encouraged software manufacturers and hardware as well as providers of services such as storage of cloud data to do more.
Marches close a week when Alphabet Inc's Google said they had increased their wind and solar contracts by more than 40%, and Amazon.com Inc promised to use only renewable energy by 2030.
“We is out on the street because we want them to do more, "said Danilo Quilaton, 34, a product designer for Amazon's subsidiary Twitch. He called Thursday the promise of the company a big win.
"Amazon promised some things, but we still have to hold them accountable," said Quilaton, who held a sign that said, "I work at Amazon. I want zero deals with oil and gas" companies.
The number of people who divorced technology companies and shouted technology-related slogans on the streets of San Francisco and Seattle numbered hundreds or thousands, a fraction of the technical workforce, but their presence was greater than in previous protests and represented a change in one industry where engineers have often focused on their work, rather than social issues.
"Amazon, let's raise the bar, not the temperature," read one protest sign outside the glass vaults at Amazon's Seattle headquarters known as Spheres, local symbols of industrial wealth. .
"The technology has been awakened," said Google Business Analyst Marie Collins of San Francisco. "Technical workers are aware that they must take collective action. "
One sign with the hashtag #techwontbuildit asked for zero emissions by 2030, no agreements to provide technology to oil and gas companies, and zero corporate sponsorship of groups denying climate change, reflecting internal requests by the big companies.
Coordination across different companies recently paralleled joint efforts of staff to oppose work on military contracts, support immigrants and other issues.
Technical workers arrived late in the morning on youth-led marches, which filled a dozen blocks of San Francisco's Market Street. In Seattle, hundreds of tech workers gathered at Amazon headquarters and marched to join larger groups.
The companies have signaled sympathy with workers for tackling climate change. But Ambassador Jeff Bezos on Thursday said it would be a bad idea to leave the oil and gas companies with outdated tools while trying to develop their businesses.
"HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE"
An Amazon spokeswoman on Friday said the company understands that some employees feel strongly about climate change, and so does Amazon. Google, which announced its clean energy deals on Thursday, did not immediately return a request for comment.
Although large numbers of the public think of technology as a pure industry, as opposed to transport or mainstream production, employees said the rapidly increasing power consumption of the data centers used in cloud computing is a major problem.
"We are the ones building the products," said one organizer who asked to be identified as Steven. "We have the power to hold them accountable."
Additional reporting from Lindsey Wasson in Seattle and Kate Munsch in San Francisco; writing by Peter Henderson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman