Amazon employees urge climate action
More than 6,000 Amazon employees have signed an open letter to the company’s management asking the e-commerce giant to release a comprehensive plan for addressing its impacts on the climate.
The letter, addressed directly to the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos—the world’s wealthiest person—and its board, said that “Amazon’s leadership is urgently needed” in global attempts to tackle climate change.
“Amazon has the resources and scale to spark the world’s imagination and redefine what is possible and necessary to address the climate crisis,” the letter said. “We believe this is a historic opportunity for Amazon to stand with employees and signal to the world that we’re ready to be a climate leader.”
Amazon has invested heavily in renewable sources of energy for its operations—most recently through three new wind farms in Ireland, Sweden and the US—and has announced a plan to reach 100 per cent renewable generation, although as the open letter from its employees points out, it has not set a date by which it intends to reach that target.
The company has also pledged to make 50 per cent of its shipments carbon neutral by 2030, eventually scaling that up to 100 per cent.
The employees’ letter criticises the company’s approach to achieving this goal, pointing out that Amazon has acquired a large fleet of diesel vans in the US, and is planning on achieving its ‘Shipment Zero’ targets through offsets, rather than through a transition away from fossil fuels. Amazon’s work supporting oil and gas companies is incompatible with its rhetorical support for climate action, the employees said, as is its history of donating to American lawmakers who consistently vote against climate legislation.
The open letter calls for Amazon to articulate a company-wide plan that includes public goals and timelines that are mapped to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s stated targets of halving carbon emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050; a complete transition away from fossil fuels; and “prioritisation of climate impact when making business decisions”.
“In our mission to become ‘Earth’s most customer-centric company,’ we believe our climate impact must be a top consideration in everything we do,” the letter concluded, referencing one of the company’s slogans. “We have the power to shift entire industries, inspire global action on climate, and lead on the issue of our lifetimes.”
A hotter world needs better cooling
Global temperature rises are likely to drive a surge in the global need for air conditioning and cooling, with a consequential rise in energy use, according to research from the United Nations Environment Programme. Thirty per cent of the global population face potentially dangerous temperatures for more than 20 days a year, the UN has warned, while heatwaves cause 12,000 deaths annually.
The UN, together with several public and private sector partners—including the governments of Chile, Rwanda and Denmark, and the engineering firms Danfoss and ENGIE—has launched a partnership, ‘The Cool Coalition’, to find lower-energy and more efficient cooling methods to try to reduce the human impact of global temperature rises without driving further carbon emissions.
“Demand for cooling is growing, as it must if we are to provide equitable access to a technology that keeps our children healthy, vaccines stable, food nutritious and economies productive,” said Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of UN Environment. “But we also can’t allow emissions to get out of hand. The Cool Coalition offers a three-in-one opportunity to cut global warming, improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people and make huge financial savings.”
Source: UN Environment; NASA
$26 trillion could be invested for social impact: IFC
As much as 10 per cent of the US$269 trillion of investable financial assets around the world could be tapped for social impact, according to a new study from the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank.
The IFC estimates that appetite for impact investing, where capital is deployed for both social and financial return, could be up to US$21 trillion in public markets, with a further US$5 trillion in private equity, debt and venture capital. Currently, around US$71 billion is invested in private impact funds, with a further US$700 billion deployed through development finance institutions, and US$400 billion through green and social bonds, the IFC said.
The IFC has established a set of “operating principles”, developed with fund managers and DFIs, to harmonise standards around impact investing and lower the barriers to entry for the sector. Sixty investment groups have signed up to the new code, including major international fund managers such as AXA Investment Managers and BNP Paribas Asset Management, and banks including Credit Suisse and UBS. Collectively, they represent around US$350 billion in assets managed in impact investment funds and instruments.
“We believe there is now potential to bring impact investing into the mainstream,” said IFC CEO Philippe Le Houérou. “Our ambitions are very high—we want much more money managed for impact because there’s no time to lose to deliver on the billions to trillions agenda.”
Climate activists call for ‘rebellion’
Extinction Rebellion, a direct action climate movement, has held demonstrations and sit-ins in 25 countries. In London, protestors blockaded streets and disrupted traffic, while others glued themselves to the doors of the headquarters of the global oil major Shell.
The group was founded last October in the UK and has gathered in momentum in parallel with other growing movements, including the ‘school strikes’ that saw hundreds of thousands of students take to the streets last month. It proposes “an international rebellion” to bring about meaningful action on climate change.
“Climate negotiations have failed to prevent the escalating harm,” the activists said in a statement. “You can’t negotiate with hurricanes, or melting ice caps. A criminal law against ecocide would impose a legal duty on governments to protect the planet’s biosphere. Realistically, it’s the only reliable way to force industry and society to change direction.”