Hundreds of Amazon employees have joined in solidarity, forming the advocacy group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) to protest the company’s climate policies. AECJ seeks to push Amazon into adopting more eco-conscious practices, but Amazon has threatened the protesters with termination for violating its communications policy. Undeterred, AECJ’s campaign continues to pressure the e-commerce behemoth into rethinking its environmental impact.
Last autumn, Amazon became The Climate Pledge’s first signatory, vowing to meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early. Amazon announced, “The Climate Pledge calls on signatories to be net-zero carbon across their businesses by 2040 — a decade ahead of the Paris Accord’s goal of 2050.” Amazon promised to decarbonize, develop low-carbon products and services, invest $100 million toward reforestation and shift toward 80% renewable energy by 2024 and 100% renewable energy by 2030.
In response, AECJ — which bills itself on Twitter as “a group of Amazon employees who believe it’s our responsibility to ensure our business models don’t contribute to the climate crisis” — has called on the tech giant to accelerate its sustainability practices. AECJ wants Amazon to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and steer away from contracts with fossil fuel companies.
To guarantee accountability with its Climate Pledge, Amazon also unveiled a sustainability website. There, Amazon publicly pledged to “promote safe and inclusive workplaces in our operations and throughout our supply chain.” That measure became a point of contention with AECJ, whose members criticize Amazon for not taking sufficient action. For instance, Wired reported that Amazon workers lambasted Amazon’s supply chain for being “built at the expense of warehouse workers who work at a pace that causes higher-than-industry-average industry rates. It’s not humane to have people scared to go to the bathroom.”
Perhaps the stickiest of point of all is Amazon’s policy that restricts employees from speaking negatively in public about the company without prior approval. An Amazon spokesperson explained, “While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems.”
Despite the policy, AECJ has decided to publicly criticize Amazon for its climate policies, tweeting, “Hundreds of us decided to stand up to our employer, Amazon. We are scared. But we decided we couldn’t live with ourselves if we let a policy silence us in the face of an issue of such moral gravity like the climate crisis… Workers everywhere must have the right to question their own employer’s contributions and responsibilities in the climate crisis.”
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