SHOPPING

Amazon’s emissions increased dramatically last year despite carbon neutrality goal

Despite the company’s commitment to decrease its carbon footprint, Amazon’s emissions grew by 18 percent last year, according to the annual sustainability report it released today. While online shopping increased during the pandemic’s second year, the company also rapidly expanded its number of warehousing operations — faster than consumer demand could support. For the entirety of 2021, the company’s activities emitted the equivalent of more than 71.54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (for comparison, that’s one and a half times the amount the U.S. government emitted in 2019.)

But this figure is undoubtedly a drastic undercount. While Amazon does include carbon-footprint” data-ylk=”slk:emissions” class=”link “emissions from its warehouses and logistics network, as Reveal amazon-drastically-undercounts-its-carbon-footprint/” data-ylk=”slk:reported” class=”link “reported this year, the company employs a sort of loophole. While other retailers, like Walmart and Target, account for pollution related to any goods they sell, Amazon only counts carbon emissions for Amazon-branded products, which make up around one percent of total sales. Third-party sellers (that is, the entities responsible for the other 99 percent of what’s sold through its online marketplace) are left to perform their own carbon emissions accounting independently — regardless of whether those sales are fulfilled through Amazon’s warehousing or not. Many of these businesses, however, likely do not meet the minimum threshold for mandatory emissions reporting

Environmental experts have long voiced concerns over the immense climate toll of Amazon’s operations, especially its rush and two-day shipping options. Despite the lack of progress, Amazon’s goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 was noted in the report.

The company doubled its network of fufillment centers during the pandemic to keep up with the spike in demand, at a rate that outpaced consumer sales. Amazon company-reports-first-quarterly-loss-in-7-years/6550850.html” data-ylk=”slk:reported” class=”link “reported a $3.8 billion net loss in

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SHOPPING

Amazon says carbon emissions rose 18% in 2021 as Covid drove upsurge

Amazon vans line up at a distribution center to pick up packages for delivery on Amazon Prime Day in Orlando, Florida.

Paul Hennessy | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Amazon’s carbon emissions jumped 18% last year, as the company reckoned with a pandemic-driven surge in e-commerce and grew its business to meet that extra demand.

In its annual sustainability report issued Monday, Amazon said its activities emitted the equivalent of 71.54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2021. That’s up 18% from 2020, and an increase of nearly 40% from 2019, the year Amazon first began disclosing its carbon footprint.

Amazon lowered its carbon intensity, which measures emissions per dollar of sales, by 1.9% in 2021, compared with a 16% decline in 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to a massive influx of orders at Amazon and other e-commerce companies. Many consumers, flush with stimulus check money, opted to do their shopping online to avoid risking exposure to the virus.

That wave of demand pushed Amazon to expand its logistics network of delivery vans, planes and trucks. It also rapidly opened new warehouses to process the stream of orders. During the year ended 2021, Amazon doubled the size of the fulfillment network it had built over the previous 25 years, the company said.

The company also added more data centers to support Amazon Web Services, as the pandemic sped up corporations’ shift to the cloud.

Amazon unveiled its “Climate Pledge” in 2019. As part of the plan, the e-commerce giant has committed to be carbon neutral by 2040, and it purchased 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian Automotive that it expects to have on the road in the U.S. by 2030. It also launched a $2 billion venture capital fund to invest in new climate technologies, partly so that they

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