Amazon announces sweeping new climate pledge amid employee pressure

Amazon announces sweeping new climate pledge amid employee pressure
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Amazon on Thursday announced a sweeping new pledge to take on climate change amid intensifying pressure from thousands of its employees worldwide.

At a press conference in Washington, D.C., Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosOcasio-Cortez: 'Won't you look at that: Amazon is coming to NYC anyway' Warren hits Bloomberg, Steyer: They have 'been allowed to buy their way' into 2020 race Saagar Enjeti: 'Consequences for corporate media are finally starting' MORE — the richest man in the world — announced his company is committing to carbon neutrality by 2040 and 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, hitting the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years ahead of schedule.

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Bezos said he intends to recruit the CEOs of other large corporations to get on board with the plan.

"We can make the argument — and we plan to do so passionately — that if we an do this, anyone can do this," Bezos said.

As part of the so-called climate pledge, Amazon is ordering 100,000 electric vehicles to hit the roads by 2024 and investing $100 million in global reforestation projects.

The company also said it would launch a new website to report progress on its commitments.

On Friday, more than 1,000 Amazon employees are set to strike against their employer as part of the Global Climate Strike, a worldwide campaign to rally around the issue of climate change. 

Amazon employees have led extensive efforts to push their larger-than-life company to commit extensive resources to becoming greener and more sustainable.

Activists heading Friday's efforts have been urging Amazon to commit to cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry, a demand that Bezos on Thursday said he does not agree with.

"No, I don’t agree with the idea that we should not give sophisticated tools to energy companies," Bezos said, responding to a question about whether Amazon's cloud-computing arm will continue offering its services to oil and gas companies. "I think we should and we need to help them instead of vilify them."

Earlier this year, thousands of Amazon employees signed an open letter calling on the tech giant to do more, specifically asking the company to commit to a particular timeline on carbon neutrality and drop its Amazon Web Services business with oil and gas companies.

The activists also urged Amazon to stop contributing to the campaigns of lawmakers known for denying climate science.

On Thursday, Bezos said Amazon will be taking a "hard look" at who it contributes to.

"As far as climate deniers go, I can assure you we’re going to be taking a hard look at our own campaign contributions and things like that, if there are active climate deniers out there we’re going to have to look very carefully at that," he said.

Updated at 12 p.m.