Amazon sustainability report: Carbon emissions rose 19% in 2020 as pandemic drove huge revenue

Rivian, a U.S. electrical car producer, is producing 100,000 supply autos for Amazon by 2030. (Amazon Picture / Jordan Stead)

As Amazon’s gross sales skyrocketed through the pandemic, its carbon emissions rose — by 19%, in keeping with its 2020 sustainability report, launched Wednesday. That’s up from a 15% year-over-year improve in 2019. However on the identical time, the corporate final yr lowered its carbon depth, a measure of carbon air pollution per greenback earned, edging barely in the direction of its pledged objective to scale back its internet carbon footprint to zero by 2040.

The report is Amazon’s third annual sustainability report assessing progress towards its 2019 Climate Pledge to realize net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Amazon goals to energy its operations with 100% renewable power by 2025 and make half of its shipments net-zero carbon by 2030, together with via 100,000 customized electrical autos that might be on the highway by 2030.

Based on the most recent report, Amazon elevated its use of renewable power from 42% throughout its operations in 2019 to 65% final yr, making it the world’s largest purchaser of renewable power.

Final yr additionally noticed an enormous pandemic-fueled rise in demand for Amazon’s companies together with supply and Prime Video, and final yr extra corporations turned to its cloud arm, Amazon Net Providers. The corporate, which employs greater than 1 million individuals worldwide, posted file income of 386 billion final yr.

Amazon’s carbon emissions elevated final yr, however its carbon depth, a measure of carbon air pollution per greenback earned, decreased. (Amazon Graphic)

However whereas general emissions rose together with income, Amazon stated its efforts and modifications in shopper habits through the pandemic blunted the general influence on emissions, leading to a discount in carbon depth. Carbon depth is a metric that quantifies whole carbon emissions, measured in grams of carbon dioxide equal, per greenback of gross merchandise gross sales.

By this metric, general carbon depth decreased 16% since 2019, from about 123 grams per greenback of gross sales to 103. That’s up from a 5% discount in 2019.

The corporate says this discount is “in line” with targets it’s growing via a nonprofit group that works with corporations lowering their emissions, the Science Based Targets Initiative. Amazon joined the initiative this Could.

Practically half of those enhancements end result from investments in renewable power and enhancements in “operational effectivity.” The metric additionally accounts for modifications in buyer habits, and a 3rd of the advance is a results of extra individuals ordering meals and different items on-line, as a substitute of trekking to bodily shops.

The most important supply of carbon emissions fell underneath a class referred to as “company purchases and Amazon-branded product emissions” that covers Amazon-branded product manufacturing, machine use and disposal, working bills, and enterprise journey.

“Whereas we’re nonetheless within the early part of decarbonizing our enterprise, we’re happy to see significant progress in a number of areas,” Amazon stated within the report. “We are going to proceed to quickly scale our investments in carbon discount options which have giant, long-term impacts.”

The corporate additionally says that in contrast to previously yr, progress in its enterprise is not going to end in a surge in whole emissions sooner or later. “As these investments turn into embedded throughout our enterprise, our carbon emissions will proceed to decouple from our enterprise progress,” in keeping with the report. “Finally, we’ll attain a degree the place absolutely the carbon emissions of our enterprise will drop, whilst our enterprise itself grows.”

Greenhouse fuel emissions reported by the corporate underwent independent review by a third-party auditor, the engineering and consulting agency Apex. Apex famous that whereas the willpower of emissions is the only real accountability of Amazon, Amazon established acceptable methods for gathering and analyzing their information they usually discovered no proof that Amazon’s greenhouse fuel estimates have been incorrect.

Final yr the corporate stated it used 232 wind and photo voltaic tasks to energy its operations. It additionally continues to affect its supply fleet with plans to get 10,000 Rivian autos on the highway as early as subsequent yr. Amazon additionally unveiled a 2 billion fund to spend money on startups constructing sustainable expertise—and it received naming rights to Seattle’s Local weather Pledge Enviornment.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos final yr launched his personal 10 billion Bezos Earth Fund that may challenge grants aimed toward addressing local weather change.

Amazon’s announcement of the Local weather Pledge, which has attracted greater than 100 different signatories, got here amid public strain from the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, which urged the corporate to set extra particular objectives on local weather change.

The annual report from Seattle-based Amazon emerges simply days after the Pacific Northwest emerged from a large “warmth dome” that generated unprecedented high-temperature information all through the area, an off-the-charts occasion that scientists say was made more likely by a altering local weather.

Fellow Seattle-area tech big Microsoft additionally releases annual sustainability experiences. The corporate lowered its carbon emissions by 6% in 2020. Microsoft is aiming to be carbon adverse by 2030.