Amazon Launches $2B Clean Tech Venture Fund

Image: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Amazon

Yesterday, online retail giant Amazon announced its  Climate Pledge Fund–a $2 billion that will invest in companies that develop innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions. As the Verge explained, The fund will help Amazon and other companies adhere to The Climate Pledge initiative it started in September 2019. That pledge committed the company, and others that sign onto it, to becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

However, at the same time, Amazon also said that its carbon footprint rose 15% last year. As the Star Tribune reported, Amazon said that while its carbon footprint grew, the amount of carbon it emitted for every dollar spent on the site fell 5% between 2018 and 2019.

Why This Matters: If a company like Amazon can lead the way to carbon neutrality and spur cleantech innovation then that’s a good thing. But since Amazon can’t commit to avoiding the use of fossil fuels, its emissions stats demonstrate how difficult it is for a global company that relies on planes, trucks, and massive warehouses to lower its emissions. Especially now during the COVID-19 epidemic when Amazon’s orders have skyrocketed, lowering emissions poses added challenges. To keep up, and deliver on time, Amazon said this month that it leased a dozen more Boeing 767s, bringing its fleet of jets to more than 80.

What’s New Here: As Cnet reported, this new fund is part of Amazon’s widening ambitions to expand its green initiatives, with Bezos in September unveiling his company’s Climate Pledge, an array of programs with the overarching goal of making Amazon net zero carbon by 2040.

  • This month, Amazon got its first group of signatories to join the pledge: Verizon, Infosys and Reckitt Benckiser.
  • Net zero carbon doesn’t mean Amazon and these other companies will stop emitting carbon altogether; instead it means they’ll remove as much carbon from the environment as they release.
  • Amazon, though, still has plenty of work to do to reach its goals.

Earth Fund: Back in February, Jeff Bezos pledged $10 billion to fight climate change through the creation of the Bezos Earth Fund. According to Bezos’ Instagram post, the global initiative will fund activists, scientists, and NGOs in an effort “to preserve and protect the natural world.”

Some Key Details: If you look at the largest single source of Amazon’s emissions it’s actually the manufacturing of their self-branded products and corporate purchases. Third-party transportation also eats up a sizeable portion of their carbon budget. Thus if you look at the full scope of Amazon’s emissions, it’s an incredibly complicated value chain to decarbonize.

One key problem: 2-day shipping comes with a hefty environmental footprint yet it’s one of Amazon’s key features that’s allowed it to outcompete smaller and independent retailers. Here’s a look at how you can help reduce emissions if you are an Amazon customer.

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