Further and Faster, Together
Letter from Kara Hurst
It is said that “good things come in threes.” For this, our third Amazon Sustainability report, we are happy to share some good news, along with the challenges we face, around our progress toward meeting our sustainability commitments. Now in our third year, we are able to observe more complete data than ever before, including trend lines of our path to decarbonization.
We know all progress is not linear, and if any year demonstrated that forecasting is difficult, it was 2020. Over the past 12 months, our world has endured unprecedented challenges. Everything about how we work, learn, travel, and live was examined, revalued, and, to some extent, upended in 2020. As change can bring about critical reflection and collective introspection, the last year has forced us to rethink how infrastructure and the built environment have set in motion environmental impacts for years to come, and we need to continue to seek new technologies, products, and services to access the things we need. At the same time, we must also directly confront how systemic racism is hurting people, including how marginalized communities face disproportionate negative environmental impacts—and we need to do better.
This is the start of a defining and decisive decade. The COVID-19 pandemic took millions of lives and dramatically impacted our families, our customers, our employees, and our global value chain. But it has also brought about a moment of pause and an opportunity to reconsider the resiliency of both humankind and our planet, making it clear how interconnected and interdependent we all are. By keeping the past year’s learnings in mind, we can successfully address societal shifts, avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
Our resolve is driven by science, and the science tells us that we have a limited window to act and stay below a predicted 1.5-degree Celsius global temperature rise. In 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told us that the world needed to move faster. At Amazon, we realized we needed to move faster too. This was the beginning of The Climate Pledge—a commitment that we co-founded with Christiana Figueres, architect of the Paris Agreement, to be net-zero carbon by 2040—10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.
We know that addressing the global crisis of climate change will take a combination of big, bold commitments and everyday actions. We know that these commitments and actions have the power to not only stave off crisis, but to create a more beautiful, livable, and breathable planet, with better jobs and increased economic development for all. Amazon plans to be at the heart of the change, starting with actions we are taking within our own company, and extending those solutions out to our customers, suppliers, vendors, and sellers.
We are committed to building a sustainable business for our customers and the planet, and we’ve taken big steps in that direction:
- We reached 65% renewable energy across our business in 2020 and became the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. We are on an accelerated path to power our global operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.
- We are electrifying our delivery vehicles and transportation network. To date, we have delivered more than 20 million packages to customers in electric delivery vehicles across North America and Europe.
- We offer an average starting pay of over $17 per hour in our fulfillment and logistics network, along with industry-leading benefits for full-time employees. We are also advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
- We set, and met, goals in 2020 to double the representation of Black directors and vice presidents, and we set new diversity, equity, and inclusion goals for 2021 that will further diversify our company.
We cannot go this alone, nor would we want to. To create lasting and systemic change on our planet, we are focused on—really, borderline obsessed with—driving change beyond Amazon, and in partnership with others. We have seen over 100 other companies join The Climate Pledge in the last year, a number that is an incredible testament to what this type of collaboration can yield. The list of signatories is growing each month, and signatories in total generate more than $1.4 trillion in global annual revenues and have more than 5 million employees across 25 industries and 16 countries. We stand together in our belief that accelerating action to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 is the right thing to do for our planet and our businesses.
At Amazon, we are also serving as a catalyst, sending signals to the market to drive a faster transition to a low-carbon economy:
- We purchased 100,000 electric vehicles from Rivian, all of which will be on the road by 2030.
- We created The Climate Pledge Fund—a $2 billion investment to support the development of technologies and services that reduce carbon emissions and help preserve the natural world—and already invested in seven visionary companies.
- We launched the AWS Clean Energy Accelerator to help startups working in clean energy accelerate their impact, access additional resources, and expand their reach.
- We served as a founding participant of the LEAF Coalition, a global public-private initiative that aims to raise at least $1 billion to protect the world’s tropical rainforests.
- We launched Climate Pledge Friendly in 2020 to help customers find products that preserve the natural world, and we partnered with trusted third-party certification organizations to highlight products that meet sustainability standards.
We are relentlessly optimistic about the future. We know that crossing the finish line won’t be easy, and there’s still lots of exploring and inventing that needs to happen. But with passion and partnership, we believe we can build a better future together.
Join us to go further and faster, together.
Vice President, Worldwide Sustainability