Updated on February 18 re the announcement of the Bezos Earth Fund.
Amazon workers have risen up again, at the risk of their own jobs. “Defying Company Policy, Over 300 Amazon Employees Speak Out” in Wired (Jan.27) was one of many media articles about the most recent incident in the employees’ campaign for climate action. A new protest stems from Amazon’s communication policy which threatened to fire employees who speak out to the public about climate change without company authorization. (A Washington Post article of January 2 summarizes all that). In response, as detailed in Wired, 363 Amazon employees intentionally violated that company policy by signing their names to posts about their own opinions and experiences. The posts were compiled by Medium on January 26. The protest was organized by the activist group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) which posted an explanation on their Facebook page, stating that employees feel a “moral responsibility to speak up”. It continues:
“The protest is the largest action by employees since Amazon began threatening to fire workers for speaking out about Amazon’s role in the climate crisis. It signals that employees are convinced that the only right thing to do at this time is to keep speaking up. AECJ has continued to call on Amazon to commit to zero emissions by 2030, stop developing AWS products and services to accelerate oil and gas extraction, and end funding of climate-denying politicians, lobbyists, and think tanks.”
On February 17, Jeff Bezos , billionaire owner of Amazon, announced the creation of the Bezos Earth Fund, which will provide $10 billion in grants to scientists and activists to fund their efforts to fight climate change. The announcement was made on Instagram and reported by the Washington Post, which Bezos also owns. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice reacted with this statement : Their statement shows that AECJ is not letting up on the link between Amazon and Big Oil, and also, not letting up. Follow them on Twitter at @AMZNforClimate.
“Why did Amazon threaten to fire employees who were sounding the alarm about Amazon’s role in the climate crisis and our oil and gas business? What this shows is that employees speaking out works–we need more of that right now.”
Big Tech and Big Oil?
Although a general perception might be that Amazon need only reduce packaging or improve logistics to reduce transportation-related emissions, there is another big climate-related issue raised by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice. As noted briefly in Vox on January 3: “Google and Amazon are now in the oil business” (Jan. 3) explaining that “big tech companies are developing AI for oil companies, even as they publicly celebrate their sustainable initiatives.” A much more detailed explanation appears in “Amazon’s New Rationale For Working With Big Oil: Saving the Planet” in Motherboard (Jan. 10) .
This is all happening in plain sight. Amazon itself describes its “Digital Oilfields” on its own website, and “Cenovus joins Big Oil’s push into Big Data with Amazon and IBM deals” appeared in the Financial Post in November 2019, giving insight into how data-driven oil and gas is growing in Canada. And Suncor boasts in a November 2019 press release from Calgary, Suncor accelerates digital transformation journey through strategic alliance with Microsoft, quoting Microsoft’s president: “Suncor is embarking on a journey to transform the energy industry. They are creating new business value for their customers, empowering and upskilling their workforce, and innovating for a sustainable future”.