'Middle of the herd' no more: Amazon tackles climate change

Jeff Bezos unveils sweeping plan to tackle climate change CNBC

Jeff Bezos just announced an ambitious climate pledge that aims to make Amazon carbon neutral by 2040

The billionaire announced plans Thursday to buy 100,000 electric vans from Rivian, custom-built for Amazon Prime deliveries, as part of an Amazon environmental initiative created to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord 10 years early.

The group organizing the employee walkout, Amazon Employees for Climate Change, has been pressuring Amazon for nearly a year to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and detail how it's preparing to deal with business disruptions caused by climate change.

Amazon Employees For Climate Justice, a group founded by Amazon workers, said the company's announcement amounted to a "huge win" and proved that employee pressure works.

Thousands of Amazon employees earlier this year signed a shareholder resolution to set a climate change plan, which did not pass. Bezos also announced a new climate pledge for businesses, calling for all companies to meet the benchmark of hitting the Paris goals 10 years early.

The world's richest man said part of that pledge is an order for 100,000 electric delivery vans from a start-up they have invested in.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks during his news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.

Amazon will also invest $100 million to restore forests and wetlands, said Bezos, adding the company will take a "careful look" at political campaign contributions it makes that could be going to politicians that deny climate science. Come late 2022, Rivian expects to have 10,000 of the electric vans roaming streets with Amazon packages onboard.

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Bezos also said Amazon was ordering 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from USA vehicle design and manufacturing startup Rivian Automotive LLC and would use 100% renewable energy by 2030, up from 40% today.

Additionally, more than 1,000 Amazon employees have said they plan to walk out on September 20 as part of the Global Climate Strike, of which Google and Microsoft employees also plan to participate.

Two years ago, Amazon made a long-term commitment to power its global infrastructure with 100% renewable energy.

"We're done being in the middle of the herd on this issue - we've chose to use our size and scale to make a difference", Bezos said.

Bezos promised that Amazon will reach 80 percent renewable energy by 2024 and 100 percent by 2030 en route to being net zero carbon by 2040.

It is the largest order of electric delivery vehicles.

Bezos said Amazon would continue to work with energy companies.

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