Technology & Science

Amazon's carbon footprint rose 15 per cent despite green initiatives

Amazon said Tuesday that its carbon footprint rose 15 per cent last year, even as it launched initiatives to reduce its harm on the environment.

The amount of CO2 Amazon emitted in 2019 was the equivalent of 13 coal-burning power plants running for a year

Amazon said activities tied to its businesses emitted 51.17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, an increase of 15 per cent. (Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)

Amazon said Tuesday that its carbon footprint rose 15 per cent last year, even as it launched initiatives to reduce its harm on the environment.

The online shopping giant said activities tied to its businesses emitted 51.17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, the equivalent of 13 coal-burning power plants running for a year.

That's up from 2018, when it reported a carbon footprint of 44.4 million metric tons.

Amazon disclosed its carbon footprint for the first time last year after employees pressured the company to do more to combat climate change.

Gregg Marland, a professor at the Research Institute for Environment, Energy and Economics at Appalachian State University, said his first reaction to Amazon's massive carbon footprint was, "Oh wow."

But he said the company was comprehensive in calculating the number, even including the emissions from shoppers who drive to its Whole Foods grocery stores and the energy used to make a Kindle tablet.

Focus on renewable energy

Amazon said that while its carbon footprint grew, the amount of carbon it emitted for every dollar spent on the site fell five per cent between 2018 and 2019.

The Seattle-based company also said it's on track to have 100 per cent of its energy use come from solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable energy by 2025, five years earlier than it had planned.

Earlier this year, Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, pledged $10 billion of his own fortune to fight climate change. (Katherine Taylor/Reuters)

And on Tuesday, Amazon announced it would start a $2 billion fund to invest in companies that make products and technology that help fight climate change.

But the increase in Amazon's carbon footprint shows how tricky it is for rapidly growing companies like it to cut down on pollution.

Increase in fossil fuel emissions 

Amazon depends on fuel-guzzling planes and trucks to ship billions of items a year around the world. Emissions from fossil fuels rose 18 per cent last year, Amazon said Tuesday.

Orders have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, as more stuck-at-home people shop online. 

To keep up and deliver on time Amazon said this month that it leased a dozen more Boeing 767s, bringing its fleet of jets to more than 80.

Earlier this year, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos said he would spend $10 billion of his personal fortune to fund scientists, activists and non-profits working to improve the environment.

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