Amazon’s Pledge of $2B to Reduce Their Carbon Footprint: The Climate Pledge FundVictoria Brodsky
In June, Amazon announced their $2B venture capital fund, the “Climate Pledge Fund” that would be dedicated to investing in sustainable technologies and services. The fund is a part of a larger initiative announced in 2019 called The Climate Pledge. Amazon launched this initiative alongside Global Optimism with the goal of meeting Paris Agreement net zero carbon milestones by 2040, ten years earlier than the Agreement’s goal to meet it by 2050. Prior to the announcement of the Climate Pledge Fund, Amazon had already been investing in reforestation and other climate change related projects with their $100M Right Now Climate Fund.
Critics of the Announcement
Although any amount of capital towards sustainable development and solutions will help companies like Amazon to reduce their carbon footprint, there are many critics of Amazon’s initiative, with nonprofits like Green America concerned that Amazon’s Climate Pledge Investment Criteria is vague.
Other critics of Amazon’s announcement come from skepticism of Amazon’s own ability to meet its sustainability goals due to their lack of reporting to the Carbon Disclosure Project.
In a recent Utility Dive Article reported that “In 2019, Amazon’s operations led to the equivalent of carbon dioxide emissions from 13 coal burning power plants running for a year..” and that “Amazon’s total carbon footprint increased 15% in 2019 compared to 2018, according to the company’s latest sustainability report” which makes Amazon’s lofty sustainability goals seem questionably optimistic.
Amazon’s Sustainability Goals
In addition to venture investments, companies that sign the Climate Pledge must agree to meet the following milestones:
Amazon itself has pledged to work on and meet the following goals:
More Sustainable Funds is Good News – The Proof Will Be in the Investments
Despite the skepticism, the $2B fund is good news. The Right Now Fund has invested in projects like Urban Greening in German through the Nature Conservatory, and Forest Carbon Co-ops in the U.S., so Amazon’s Climate Pledge investment history has shown investment dollars going to what seems to be effect projects directly related to solving climate change related issues.
Now, it’s hard to critique this particular fund before we can evaluate the types of investments that are being made. We hope and expect that the investments will go towards real solutions that will have great sustainable impact.
Fundraising in times of COVID is hard, and sustainability fundraising is even harder. At this point, any dollars going towards emissions mitigation and sustainable solutions is a win.