"Amazon is one of the world's most innovative companies. We pride ourselves on being a leader. But in the face of the climate crisis, a true leader is one who reaches zero emissions first, not one who slides in at the last possible moment."

By Ian Horswill

Posted on September 10, 2019

Nearly 1,000 Amazon workers are planning to walk out in protest of Amazon’s perceived inaction on climate change and urging CEO Jeff Bezos to take action.

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice tweeted a letter online stating that it has been urging Amazon for the past year to take steps to address the climate crisis.

“This walkout is about telling our business and political leaders that we demand urgent action at the scale of the crisis.” said Roshni Naidu, a senior technical product manager at Amazon.

The employees want Amazon to commit to zero emissions by 2030 and pilot electric vehicles first in communities most-impacted by pollution.

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“Amazon is one of the world’s most innovative companies,” the group said. “We pride ourselves on being a leader. But in the face of the climate crisis, a true leader is one who reaches zero emissions first, not one who slides in at the last possible moment.”

“Climate science reports show that the world needs to reach net zero emissions by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. However, countries like the US, and companies like Amazon, that have historically produced more emissions and have the resources to lead in this crisis, need to get to zero emissions well before 2050 for the world to have a chance of meeting the 1.5C warming target.”

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This will be the first time that Amazon workers at corporate offices are walking out, and it’s the first walkout in the tech industry over the climate crisis, states the Amazon Employees for Climate. They claim 941 workers have agreed to the protect, which is a small percentage of the total workforce of 600,000 people globally.

The demonstration, scheduled to start at 11:30am Pacific time on 20 September, will mark the first time in Amazon’s 25-year history that workers at its Seattle headquarters have walked off the job, though many are taking paid holiday. Most of the workers who have agreed to protest work in the city, but employees in other offices, including in Europe, have indicated an interest in the event.

The protest is part of a global general strike led by 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg taking place ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit on 23 September.

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In May, thousands of employees published an open letter asking Bezos and the Amazon directors to adopt a shareholder resolution and company-wide climate change plan, which they rejected.

Amazon recently announced its 65th and 66th renewable energy projects and claims its solar projects in the US have offset the CO2 equivalent of more than 200 million miles of truck deliveries.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Playing a significant role in helping to reduce the sources of human-induced climate change is an important commitment for Amazon. We have dedicated sustainability teams who have been working for years on initiatives to reduce our environmental impact.”

Over the past 12 months, tech workers across the US have walked out over a wide range of issues. Google employees objected to the handling of sexual harassment claims. Riot Games workers demonstrated against forced arbitration. WayFair staff left their desks after learning that the retailer profited from migrant detention centres run by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.