At a shareholder meeting Wednesday, the CEO refused to address workers urging the company to overhaul its climate policy
— Amazon’s chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos, refused to address employees demanding the company take action on the climate crisis at its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
About 50 members of the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice attended the event, representing 7,700 staffers who signed a letter publicly urging Amazon to overhaul its climate policy. Employees put forth a proposal at the meeting requesting a public report on climate change from Amazon’s board of directors. The board suggested shareholders vote against it, and it was not passed.
After the proposal failed to pass, employees attempted to confront Bezos, who declined to meet with them.
“Jeff remained off-stage, ignored the employees and would not speak to them,” the group said in a statement after the event. “Jeff’s inaction and lack of meaningful response underscore his dismissal of the climate crisis and spoke volumes about how Amazon’s board continues to de-prioritize addressing Amazon’s role in the climate emergency.”
WATCH: Amazon employees confront Jeff Bezos over lack of action on the #climatecrisis at the shareholder meeting today. We asked him to join us and commit to bold climate leadership now. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/okGmFCdj7B— Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@AMZNforClimate) May 22, 2019
Shareholders voted at the meeting on Wednesday on proposals including changes in how Amazon shares data on gender pay equity to a ban on the sale of facial recognition software. All 15 proposals failed to pass.
The climate proposal requested a report outlining how Amazon “is planning for disruptions posed by climate change” and “reducing company-wide dependence on fossil fuels”, citing Amazon’s coal-powered data centers and the amount of gasoline burnt for package deliveries. At a press conference following the shareholder meeting, the employees suggested Amazon should put forth a timeline for reaching a zero emission goal.
“Amazon has the scale and resources to spark the world’s imagination and lead the way on addressing the climate crisis,” said Jamie Kowalski, a software engineer who co-filed the resolution and attended the shareholder meeting. “What we’re missing is leadership from the very top of the company.”
The proposal noted that other tech giants had released reports on their contributions to climate change and have committed to addressing concerns. Microsoft has been carbon neutral, meaning it balances its carbon emissions with carbon removal, since 2012 and has pledged to decrease its operational carbon emissions 75% by 2030. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007.
A spokesman from Amazon confirmed that none of the shareholder proposals outlined ahead of the vote were passed, including the request for a report on climate change. In its response to the proposal, Amazon’s board noted it has committed to reaching a net zero carbon footprint on 50% of shipments by 2030. Amazon also has a plan to power its global infrastructure, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), with sustainable energy. Other cloud providers including Google and Azure offset energy usage for hosting to reach a zero carbon footprint while AWS does not.
The board said it agreed that “planning for potential disruptions posed by climate change and reducing company-wide dependence on fossil fuels are important” but said Amazon was “already doing this” and suggested shareholders vote against the proposal. The employee group said in the press conference that the board’s stance on the proposal made it difficult to pass. They said they would continue to pressure Amazon.
“Because the board still does not understand the severity of the climate crisis, we will file this resolution again next year,” said Weston Fribley, another software engineer who co-filed the resolution. “We will announce other actions in the coming months. We – Amazon’s employees – have the talent and experience to remake entire industries with incredible speed. This is work we want to do.”
by Kari Paul | The Guardian