Amazon Carbon Footprint Grows 18% Despite Vow To Slash It
After using 96 pages to promote their firm’s numerous environment-saving efforts, Amazon officials saved the most important data for the final section of their latest sustainability report.
Photo Insert: Amazon’s fossil fuel use for direct operations, such as air and ground shipping, rose 27% from 2020.
In its journey to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, Amazon’s carbon footprint grew—yes, grew—by 18% last year, from 60.64 million metric tons (mmt) to 71.54 mmt, Jacob Carpenter reported for Data Sheet, a Fortune publication.
And despite all manner of mitigation attempts—renewable energy investments, sustainable construction, electric vehicle purchases, improved packaging—the tech conglomerate’s emissions relative to gross merchandise sales only declined 1.9% in 2021.
The third-annual report from Amazon, which co-founded a net-zero climate pledge drive in 2019, offered the latest reminder to take Big Tech environmental pledges with a boulder of salt.
Until green technology evolves to the point that gas-guzzling cargo flights and energy-sapping factories run on renewables—a far-off proposition with no clear target date in sight—Amazon and its industry rivals will continue to disappoint ardent environmentalists.
Amazon’s results in 2021 offer one of the clearest examples yet of reality falling far, far short of promises, with no end in sight. In a year marked by freewheeling spending by consumers, corporations, and investors, Amazon’s business took off.
The company’s total revenue hit $469.8 billion in 2021, up 22% from the prior year, as e-commerce sales soared and demand for its cloud-computing business boomed.
Amazon’s carbon emissions increased at a similar clip despite the company’s numerous climate-centric initiatives. Its fossil fuel use for direct operations, such as air and ground shipping, rose 27% from 2020.
Its construction and equipment-related emissions spiked 46%. Corporate activities, including the production of Amazon-branded products, produced 14% more carbon emissions.
Amazon certainly isn’t alone in struggling to curb its carbon footprint—most notably, Microsoft’s emissions jumped 21.5% in 2020-21—but it’s made environmental altruism central to the company’s brand.
The e-commerce giant launched The Climate Pledge three years ago, ultimately attracting more than 300 companies willing to commit to net-zero emissions by 2040. In reality, though, Big Tech’s environmental goals remain largely at the mercy of innovation.