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Thursday October 08 General

The Climate Pledge

The Climate Pledge began with an audacious and ambitious “What if?” As the stark realities of the climate crisis change the world immeasurably, the evidence is clear: now is our time.

When it comes to climate change, scientists talk about tipping points. Extreme temperatures are fast becoming the norm; Antarctic ice sheets are melting faster, and the ocean is warming quicker than predicted. The effects of climate change are startling and unsettling—but also highly motivating. The actions we take between 2020 and 2030 are fundamental to avoiding further tipping points. And this is the decade that will determine whether we can meet the global goal for net-zero carbon.

The landmark Paris Agreement set out a unanimous response to keep a global temperature rise below 1.5°C. To have a strong chance of staying below this target, global carbon emissions must reach net zero by 2050, and the earlier we get there, the stronger our chances become. Climate science also tells us that to meet the 2050 goal, we have to halve global emissions between 2020 and 2030.

Time to change

Could we hit the Paris Agreement target early? The answer is: we can. Ten years early, in fact.

A joint initiative between Amazon and Global Optimism, The Climate Pledge was founded on the conviction that global businesses are responsible, accountable, and able to act on the climate crisis, and that doing so would transform societies and potential for collective action.

The Climate Pledge brings together far-reaching capabilities of the most ambitious and forward-thinking actors in global enterprise with an eye to galvanize meaningful change. It’s the opportunity for companies to join a community of leading businesses committed to transformational action, thereby protecting the global economy from the disruptive risks associated with climate change.

“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue—we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” says Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon—which delivers more than 10 billion items a year—can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can.”

To date, The Climate Pledge has announced 11 signatories committed to accelerating their efforts to reach net-zero carbon by 2040: Amazon, Best Buy, Infosys, McKinstry, Mercedes-Benz, Oak View Group, RB, Real Betis, Schneider Electric, Siemens, and Verizon.

The three principles

To hit net-zero carbon by 2040, signatories to The Climate Pledge must agree to three principles: 

  • Measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis;
  • Implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement through real business changes and innovations, including efficiency improvements, renewable energy, materials reductions, and other carbon emission elimination strategies;
  • Neutralize any remaining emissions with additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially-beneficial offsets to achieve net zero annual carbon emissions by 2040.

Combined, these three principles are a transformative direction for signatories to decarbonize their businesses at the scale needed to achieve net zero carbon 10 years early. 

Strength in numbers

Amazon operates of the most complex businesses on the planet, with several different private brands, businesses and services. In order to achieve the commitments set out in The Climate Pledge, the company works backwards from the goal and designs, invents and implements solutions to optimize its operations and solve for current and future challenges. In its own business, Amazon has made major investments in renewables as part of its pledge to reach 100% renewable energy by 2025. To date, Amazon has launched 91 renewable energy projects around the world, including more than 60 solar rooftops on our fulfillment centers and sort centers. And this is just the start. Its $440-million investment in Rivian, the emissions-free electric vehicle manufacturer, will see 100,000 electric delivery vehicles on the road by 2030, saving millions of metric tons of carbon per year. And in launching the Right Now Climate Fund with The Nature Conservancy, Amazon is investing $100 million in conservation, reforestation, and improved land management actions, to take nature-based solutions to scale.

While undoubtedly significant, these investments are a fraction of what’s needed to hit net-zero carbon by 2040. But they make a point that’s absolutely central to the success of The Climate Pledge: if global companies don’t join forces, this won’t work.

“Meeting these goals is really only something that can be done in collaboration with other large companies, because we’re all part of each other’s supply chains,” says Jeff Bezos. “So, we have to work together, and we want to use our scale and our scope to lead the way. We know it’s going to be challenging. But we know we can do it—and that we have to.”

The journey to net-zero carbon by 2040 may be ambitious. That’s the point – the future of the planet and businesses depend on it. The Climate Pledge brings together a community of leading businesses to take transformational action needed to avert economic and climate disaster—and to build our collective future.

We’re proud to have Amazon as a Gold Sponsor for this year's Climate Week NYC. Watch the conversation on The Climate Pledge between Christiana Figueres, Founding Partner of Global Optimism, and Jeff Wilke, CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon here.

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