Nation & World

4,500 employees challenge Amazon to lead on climate-change policies

'We have the power to shift entire industries'

Seattle Times/TNS

A group of Amazon employees who have submitted a shareholder proposal urging the company to disclose its climate-change plans stand in front of the Amazon spheres. Their proposal is one of 15 submitted by activist investors, including members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
Seattle Times/TNS A group of Amazon employees who have submitted a shareholder proposal urging the company to disclose its climate-change plans stand in front of the Amazon spheres. Their proposal is one of 15 submitted by activist investors, including members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

In an unprecedented public push to change Amazon.com policies, nearly 4,500 employees have put their names to a letter asking CEO Jeff Bezos and the commerce giant’s board of directors to become global leaders in fighting climate change.

The letter, posted online Wednesday, is the latest step up in an internal drive by employees for a comprehensive corporate climate strategy.

“We have the power to shift entire industries, inspire global action on climate, and lead on the issue of our lifetimes,” the group of employees, calling themselves Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, wrote.

The group is asking Amazon to set timelines consistent with a scientific consensus that calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut in half by 2030 to avoid ever-greater climate catastrophes, and commensurate with the company’s industry-leading position.

But the company’s board of directors said Amazon already is doing, or planning to do, what the employees are asking.

“Amazon has the resources and scale to spark the world’s imagination and redefine what is possible and necessary to address the climate crisis,” wrote the employees, who are from some 28 countries and work in warehouses, data centers, engineering hubs, media studios and corporate headquarters.

“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.”

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Amazon, as the avatar of modern consumption-driven capitalism, has become perhaps the biggest target of pressure outside of the fossil-fuels industry for those concerned about climate change.

It received more activist shareholder proposals on climate and other environmental, social and governance issues this year than any other company, according to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

ExxonMobil and Chevron previously were the top targets.

The Amazon employees argue that the company’s guiding principle — obsession with customers — necessitates a fulsome climate response in the face of a global crisis: “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.”

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