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Amazon employees signal the way forward with call for corporate environmental action plan

A significant number of Amazon employees — 5,237 and counting — have signed an open letter to Jeff Bezos and his board of directors calling for the development of a corporate environmental action plan to help tackle climate change. The document, which includes a recommended list of bibliographical references, says: “Amazon has the resources and scale to spark the world’s imagination and redefine what is possible and necessary to address the climate crisis,” adding that now is “a historic opportunity” for Amazon to signal to the world it is ready to be a leader in this area.

The document is an unusual display of activism in a company usually characterized for the low profile of its workforce, and an attempt to pressure management to launch a series of urgent decarbonization measures such as using renewable energies, rather than simply reducing emissions as the company continues to grow, as well as ceasing to work with hydrocarbon extraction companies, as well as not supporting politicians who oppose the fight against climate change.

In addition, the letter aims to distinguish greenwashing from reality, highlighting some of the company’s so-called environmental achievements: the goal of installing 50 solar energy generation units in the company’s warehouses by 2020 has so far only been done at 6% of the company’s corporate buildings, amounting to a tiny reduction in its total carbon footprint, while the recent acquisition of 20,000 diesel delivery vans will only be countered by the acquisition of emission credits. The Shipment Zero policy does not commit the company to reducing emissions based on current levels, because given the growth rate of the company’s activities, even if 50% of shipments have zero emissions by 2030 would still mean a huge increase.

Meanwhile, companies such as Apple are also pursuing climate change goals: its offices and stores are already 100% powered by renewable energy (which means acquiring enough energy from sustainable sources to balance total consumption), and a growing percentage of its products include recycled aluminum and plastic. That said, the company’s facilities account for only 26% of its total carbon footprint. To do something about the remaining 74%, which originates from its suppliers, the company has already put pressure on 44 of them, including the most representative, Foxconn and TSMC, to move toward renewable energy. Apple has defined climate change as one of the most important threats to its activities and Tim Cook has told shareholders that climate change deniers “who found the company’s environmental dedication either ideologically or economically ill-advised, they can get out of the stock.

More and more people are now aware of the reality of climate change and it is becoming the most important element of corporate social responsibility. A corporate environmental action plan is an increasingly fundamental requirement and is no longer about marketing. Managers must understand it and give it the relevance it really has by making appropriate decisions. Providing correct and objective information to counteracts the years of misinformation generated by the hydrocarbons industries is increasingly important, as is the leadership that companies and politicians can develop based on information and criteria that are rigorous and correct.

Scientific organizations worldwide agree that climate change is a reality and that humanity is responsible. In response, the deniers continue to trot out conspiracy theories or bogus science about geological cycles or sunspots as an excuse to look the other way and do nothing. But we must stand up to these idiots who claim to know more than the entire scientific community: climate change is the greatest threat to humanity in our entire history, a complex challenge we have only a few decades to deal with, and one that brooks no discussion or obscure theories. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant of the facts or a liar.

(En español, aquí)