Jeff Bezos Delivers Exciting, Sweeping Plans for Amazon's Climate Action Strategy

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a sweeping plan on Thursday, the day before 1000 Amazon Seattle employees will join colleagues at Google and Microsoft in walking off their jobs to support the September 20, 2019 Global Climate Strike and marches around the world. The sweeping new plan unveiled by Bezos commits the company to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years ahead of schedule.

As part of the announcement, Amazon will purchase 100,000 electric delivery vans from vehicle manufacturer Rivian. They will be on the road as early as 2021, giving the company a big boost in keeping its climate policy promise to make Amazon carbon neutral by 2040. All 100,000 vans should be on the road by 2024. Note that Amazon has already invested $440 million in Rivian, which raised as part of its $700 million February 2019 round of funding.

Rivians will be built in Michigan in Normal, Illinois, alongside the SUVs and pickups Rivian plans to build in a former Mitsubishi plant, reports The Detroit News.

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"This provides an opportunity for mega-tech, through the sheer size and capital available, to invest in electric vehicle and accelerate EV penetration," Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a Thursday note to investors.

When Mitsubishi ran the Illinois plant, it churned out around 250,000 vehicles annually, Abuelsamid said. Between the pickup, SUV and Amazon van, Rivian would likely be approaching 100,000 vehicles per year in the early years of the plant, which should be fully operating by the end of next year. There's also an as-yet-unnamed vehicle that Rivian and Ford Motor Co. plan to partner on that might run on the line..

Bezos expects 80% of Amazon’s energy use to come from renewable sources by 2024, before transitioning to zero emissions by 2030. The current rate of renewable energy usage is 40%

“We want to use our scale and our scope to lead the way,” Bezos said at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “One of the things we know about Amazon as a role model for this is that it’s a difficult challenge for us because we have deep, large physical infrastructure. So, if we can do this, anyone can do this.”

The richest man in the world also promised that Amazon is committed to examining its political campaign contributions to determine whether they include “active climate deniers.” Bezos also said that Amazon will step up its lobbying efforts in Washington in search of political solutions to climate change.

Amazon is also asking other companies to join them in committing to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Bezos had quite a presentation,  also announcing a $100 million donation to The Nature Conservancy to form the Right Now Climate Fund, which will work to restore and protect forests, wetlands and peatlands around the world, with the goal of removing carbon from the atmosphere.

Dara O’Rourke, a senior principal scientist on Amazon’s sustainability team, said the company built a “comprehensive” carbon accounting system that helps it pull data from its various businesses.

“Amazon is as complex as many companies combined,” O’Rourke said. “That forced us to build one of the most sophisticated carbon accounting systems in the world. We had to build a system that had the granular data, but at an Amazon scale.”

CNBC News reports that “in February Amazon announced it would make half of all its shipments carbon neutral by 2030 by using more eco-friendly packaging, using more renewable energy like wind power, as well as using electric vans for package deliveries. As part of that effort, which it calls “Shipment Zero,” Amazon said then it would share its company-wide carbon footprint for the first time later this year. That presentation concluded today with an impressive ToDo list.