Our Carbon Footprint
The path to net-zero carbon has many obstacles, but we thrive on big challenges. Learn more about our 2021 carbon footprint and how we’re addressing the global challenges in carbon reduction.
Climate change is one of the world’s greatest crises, and to address it, the public and private sectors need to act together. That’s why we co-founded The Climate Pledge, a commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040—10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Since we created the Pledge in 2019, more than 300 companies have joined Amazon in making this commitment. The path to decarbonization remains challenging. This is especially true for a business of the size and broad scope of Amazon.
We operate businesses—delivery and transportation logistics, physical stores, grocery, manufacturing, and cloud computing services—that involve moving products, manufacturing goods, and creating computing capacity, all at scale. While some of these businesses—including cloud computing and e-commerce—offer greater efficiencies, some are more carbon-intensive endeavors. In reducing their carbon footprint through investment and innovation, we will enable even greater efficiency and more-sustainable choices for our customers.
As we work to decarbonize our company, Amazon is growing rapidly. We have scaled our business at an unprecedented pace to help meet the needs of our customers through the pandemic. From early 2020 to the end of 2021, we created more than 750,000 full-time and part-time jobs worldwide and doubled the size of the fulfillment network that we had built over the previous 25 years. At the same time, an increasing number of companies around the world moved their technology to the cloud, gaining significant speed, innovation, and cost advantages, and AWS grew its revenue by 37% year-over-year in 2021.
These developments meant we had to build new facilities—for both our consumer and cloud businesses—and expand our transportation network. Throughout this growth, we remained focused on improving our efficiency through more-sustainable solutions, including electric vehicles and alternative fuel options as well as wind and solar power across our network. In AWS, the team spent considerable resource innovating on power efficiency, removing the central Uninterruptible Power Supply from our data center design, integrating power supplies into our racks, and utilizing Graviton EC2 instances that use up to 60% less energy for the same performance than comparable Amazon EC2 instances.
With all of our growth in 2021, our absolute carbon emissions increased by 18% in 2021; however, importantly, our carbon intensity decreased by 1.9%—this is the third year in a row we’ve seen our carbon intensity decrease. This measurement quantifies total carbon emissions, in grams of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂e), per dollar of gross merchandise sales (GMS). As companies invest in new products and services, and their businesses grow substantially, the focus should not be solely on a company’s carbon footprint in terms of absolute carbon emissions, but also on whether it’s lowering its carbon intensity. Over time, continued decreases in carbon intensity can lead to lower absolute emissions.
While we’ve had success cutting emissions from some operations, we are still early in the process of transforming others. Some actions and investments have immediate carbon savings, while others will take years to demonstrate results. The path to net-zero carbon has many obstacles, but we thrive on big challenges. A few of those big challenges include:
- Powering our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025
- Developing more-sustainable transportation infrastructure
- Constructing more-sustainable buildings
- Decarbonizing the supply chain
Powering Operations with 100% Renewable Energy
In 2021, we reached 85% renewable energy across our operations, and we are on a path to achieve 100% by 2025—five years ahead of the original target of 2030. This transition to 100% renewable energy benefits our customers as well. Studies by the international analyst firm 451 Research found that moving on-premises computing workloads to AWS can lower workload carbon footprint by nearly 80% compared to surveyed enterprise data centers. That number could improve to as high as 96% once AWS is powered with 100% renewable energy—a target we are on path to meet by 2025. AWS’ infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy efficient than the median of surveyed U.S. enterprise data centers and up to five times more energy efficient than the average European enterprise data center.
Developing More-Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure
Reducing carbon emissions in transportation is a complex challenge for many companies. We plan to make half of our shipments net-zero carbon by 2030, and to do that, we are creating a worldwide fleet of zero-emission vehicles. Right now, the vehicles and charging infrastructure don’t exist at the scale needed to serve customers. We need the supply to increase dramatically. We have ordered 100,000 electric vehicles (EVs) from Rivian, and thousands more from manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Stellantis, and Mahindra Electric. These orders have sent a demand signal that is shifting the market to meet not only our needs, but also the needs of other companies around the world.
We announced in November that, in the city of Paris, two-thirds of our shipments are delivered using zero-emission transport such as EVs, electric cargo bikes, and on-foot deliveries. We also are exploring green hydrogen technologies: Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund—a corporate venture fund that invests in sustainability—recently announced it has invested in EH2 in the U.S. and Sunfire in Germany, two companies helping to push the green hydrogen industry forward.
It will take time to remove carbon emissions from heavy transportation systems, including ocean shipping, aviation, and trucking. Governments and the private sector need to come together on this important work. Amazon is at the heart of such industry initiatives and government partnerships, including the Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels network (coZEV), the First Movers Coalition, the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance Aviators Group (SABA), and the Clean Energy Demand Initiative.
Constructing More-Sustainable Buildings
Businesses also face the challenge of removing carbon emissions from new building construction. Via The Climate Pledge Fund, Amazon has invested in CarbonCure Technologies, which enables concrete producers to make the same high-quality concrete with a lower carbon footprint, and Brimstone Energy, which seeks to make cement carbon-neutral through a process focused on calcium silicate rocks, which have no embedded CO2, as well as magnesium species, which passively absorb CO2. Amazon is lowering the carbon footprint of our buildings by using CarbonCure’s systems and Brimstone Energy cement in some new construction, including in Amazon’s second headquarters in Virginia (HQ2).
HQ2 will be a model for sustainable construction. We’ve electrified the operations of HQ2, eliminating the use of fossil fuels for buildings systems and food service. We have committed to powering 100% of HQ2’s operations with renewable energy through a combination of off-site and on-site solar projects. And we plan to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest sustainability building certification issued by the U.S. Green Building Council.
We also continue to innovate with construction techniques to make our fulfillment centers more sustainable. Many of our fulfillment facilities throughout the U.S., Europe, and India are powered by on-site solar, where a rooftop installation can power up to 80% of the facility’s energy use. As of 2021, 115 of our global fulfillment facilities have rooftop solar installations.
Constructing our AWS data centers also presents challenges related to sustainability. Concrete and steel used in construction are two of the largest contributors of embodied carbon in a data center building, and we have multiple initiatives to reduce their carbon impact. For example, our design standards now require concrete with a 20% reduction in embodied carbon compared with standard concrete for new U.S. data centers, and we are expanding this requirement globally. Also, instead of using steel from oxygen furnaces that burn coal or gas, we are moving to steel from electric-arc furnaces, which use scrap steel and can create steel using renewable energy and up to 100% recycled content. In 2021, six AWS data centers were constructed with steel made this way, and we have plans to build more in the future.
Decarbonizing the Supply Chain
Amazon utilizes an extensive supply chain to deliver goods and services to our customers. Our carbon accounting process addresses all three Scopes of emissions under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Since 2019, we have shared the Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions included in our footprint through our annual Sustainability Report, along with a detailed description of the comprehensive methodology underlying our calculations.
Measurement is critical as we work toward our goal of net-zero carbon by 2040—we have to measure and understand emissions in order to eliminate them. Like other companies, we are working to improve the granularity of data available and will continue to seek improvements to our reporting processes. We already work with organizations and regulatory bodies around the globe to promote transparent and comparable climate reporting.
One example of this is through our partnership with the We Mean Business Coalition, a group of nonprofits focused on accelerating the transition to a net-zero economy. We support the Coalition’s SME Climate Hub—a global initiative that gives small and medium-sized enterprises, like those in our supply chain, free tools and resources to measure and report their emissions. With the Hub’s support, these companies are committing to halve their emissions by 2030 and to reach net-zero by 2050.
We Thrive on Big Challenges
The challenges we collectively face on the path to net-zero carbon are considerable. Many new technologies are showing promise in their ability to reduce carbon emissions, but may still require significant development. We need to both invent new solutions and scale and drive down the costs of known solutions.
In 2021, we reached 85% renewable energy across our operations, and we are on a path to achieve 100% by 2025—five years ahead of the original target of 2030. Progress is not easy, and we are far from done. However, our success in deploying renewable energy globally provides us with a playbook that we are deploying to tackle big challenges like transportation, building construction, and supply chain decarbonization strategies. With our relentless culture of innovation, and a tenacious team of sustainability scientists and professionals, we are committed to reaching our 2040 target.
But we can’t do it alone. We will continue to work with partners in the public and private sectors to drive innovation, technology advancements, and global policy change. To the public sector, we say: We support and encourage policies and public-private partnerships that will help accelerate climate solutions. And as one of more than 300 signatories to The Climate Pledge, we say to the innovators, scientists, builders, and entrepreneurs: Our door is open. We all need to decarbonize. The work may not make the headlines or bring immediate rewards, but a challenge like this will never be resolved overnight. These are the hard steps that need to be taken. We welcome you to join us in finding solutions to this global crisis.
Amazon’s Enterprise-Wide Carbon Footprint, 2019-2021
|Carbon Intensity |
(grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per dollar of gross merchandise sales)
|Emission Category |
(million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent)
|Emissions from Direct Operations (Scope 1)||5.76||9.62||12.11||26%|
|Emissions from Purchased Electricity (Scope 2)||5.50||5.27||4.07||-23%|
|Emissions from Indirect Sources (Scope 3)||39.91||45.75||55.36||21%|
|Corporate purchases and Amazon-branded product emissions (e.g., operating expenses, business travel, and Amazon-branded product manufacturing, use phase, and end-of-life)||15.41||16.70||19.09||14%|
|Capital goods (e.g. building construction, servers and other hardware, equipment, vehicles)||8.01||10.52||15.37||46%|
|Other indirect emissions (e.g., third-party transportation, packaging, upstream energy related)||12.44||15.77||18.00||14%|
|Lifecycle emissions from customer trips to Amazon’s physical stores||4.05||2.77||2.91||5%|
|Amazon’s Total Footprint||51.17||60.64||71.54||18%|