Amazon workers demand action on climate change

More than 2,400 employees have asked the company to establish firm commitments to reducing its carbon footprint after the tech giant was accused of helping the oil and gas industry

11Apr

More than 2,400 Amazon employees have signed a letter calling on the company to reconsider the way it addresses and contributes to global warming, marking the largest tech employee-driven movement on climate change to date.

The workers have demanded that Amazon establishes firm commitments to reduce its carbon footprint rather than making vague announcements. They also want their employer to halt its practice of offering custom cloud-computing service assisting the oil and gas industry in finding and extracting more fossil fuels.

The letter follows a Gizmodo report that suggested that Amazon's connection to the oil and gas industry was the reason for its slowdown in action on climate change after the company made a vow in 2014 for its data centers to run entirely on renewables.

The workers called for Amazon's leaders and employees to change their approach so that "that climate change is something they think about whenever a business decision is being made," according to Rajit Iftikhar, a software engineer in Amazon's retail business.

"We want to make Amazon a better company. It is a natural extension of that," Iftikhar remarked.

Unusually, the employees who signed the letter made their names public, demonstrating their level of concern on the topic.

Amazon's green energy policies, or lack thereof, have hit the headlines a lot this year, as Greenpeace accused the company of drastically increasing its AWS operations in Virginia without adding more renewable energy sources. The company then announced the launch of "ShipmentZero", an initiative that aims to make half of all Amazon's shipments carbon neutral by 2030. It also recently revealed plans to develop three new wind farms.

"Earlier this year, we announced that we will share our companywide carbon footprint, along with related goals and programs," commented Amazon spokesman Sam Kennedy in a statement that did not directly address the letter. "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 is not the only tech giant that has faced backlash from an increasingly vocal employee base recently. Google employees have been particularly outspoken on company matters they disagree with as, last week, they demanded Kay Cole James be removed from the now-disbanded AI ethics board, called for temp workers to receive full benefits and staged a mass walkout over the company's treatment of women last year.

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