Quantcast

Amazon Refuses to Act on Climate Change. So We Employees Are Speaking Out

Insights + Opinion
Beata Zawrzel / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Rajit Iftikhar

My parents moved to the U.S. from Bangladesh to try to have a better life and eventually settled in New York, where I was born and raised. During my childhood, I saw myself as just another American. Over time, however, I now see that being the child of Bangladeshi immigrants changes my perspective.


That is especially true on matters surrounding the climate crisis.

I see clearly the inequities of its causes and effects. Despite emitting greenhouse gases at lower rates than richer countries, poorer countries like Bangladesh will bear its worst consequences. Yet, the UN now estimates 1 in 3 children in Bangladesh is at risk from cyclones, flooding or other climate change-related disasters. Millions of people have already had to flee their homes in the countryside as flooding, rising sea levels, and storms have destroyed their villages or taken away their means of survival. They have to uproot their rural lives and travel to cities such as Dhaka, taking whatever jobs they can get to survive. With 20 million people, Dhaka is overpopulated and underresourced. It lacks the ability to build the public transportation, housing and other infrastructure that climate refugees will need.

The author, Rajit Iftikhar.

Rajit Iftikhar


We in richer countries tend to turn a blind eye toward suffering in poorer countries. When Cyclone Idai and then Cyclone Kenneth devastated Mozambique in March and April, only people who keep a close eye on the news would heard about both storms. Americans continually underestimate how bad the climate crisis will be for everyone in years to come because it's easy to ignore those who are facing the crisis right now.

My mom always tells me that as people who now live in a position of privilege, we have a responsibility to speak for the people who aren't at the table. So often countries like Bangladesh or Mozambique are forgotten and not considered in decisions that impact them. So I think it is my responsibility to speak out to make sure we do all we can to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. It is our emissions that are causing this crisis, so it is our responsibility to take action, wherever we are.

And for me that happens to be at Amazon.

Unfortunately, Amazon's leadership doesn't appear to see it the same way. We lag behind our peers when it comes to cutting emissions. Google and Apple have already reached 100% renewable-powered data centers. DHL has committed to a goal of zero-emissions logistics by 2050. Not only do we have no goals with dates for transitioning to renewable energy, but we even have an Amazon Web Services Oil and Gas initiative to build custom solutions for fossil fuel companies to help them accelerate and expand oil and gas extraction.

Amazon employees know from labor history that when workers want change, they shouldn't just wait for company leadership to act. In this climate crisis, we don't have any more time to wait. Workers have the power to elevate issues that they care about if they are willing to join together to make their voices heard.

That is why I joined over 7,700 of my coworkers asking Amazon to produce a comprehensive, company-wide plan to tackle the climate crisis.

The open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos and the board of directors was in support of a proposal by advocacy group Amazon Employees For Climate Justice calling for the corporation to reveal publicly how it is "planning for disruptions posed by climate change, and how Amazon is reducing its company-wide dependence on fossil fuels." The climate proposal was one of a dozen shareholder proposals Amazon stockholders rejected at the company's annual shareholder meeting May 24. The employees behind the climate proposal say they plan to introduce it again next year.

As one of the largest and most successful companies in the world, Amazon has the capability to drastically reduce its own emissions. It can lead innovation in sustainable technologies if it would only choose to prioritize that. My hope is that we as employees can come together to make that happen.

Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tuna auctions are a tourist spectacle in Tokyo. Outside the city's most famous fish market, long queues of visitors hoping for a glimpse of the action begin to form at 5 a.m. The attraction is so popular that last October the Tsukiji fish market, in operation since 1935, moved out from the city center to the district of Toyosu to cope with the crowds.

Read More Show Less

gmnicholas / E+ / Getty Images

By Nicole Greenfield

Kristan Porter grew up in a fishing family in the fishing community of Cutler, Maine, where he says all roads lead to one career path: fishing. (Porter's father was the family's lone exception. He suffered from terrible seasickness, and so became a carpenter.) The 49-year-old, who has been working on boats since he was a kid and fishing on his own since 1991, says that the recent warming of Maine's cool coastal waters has yielded unprecedented lobster landings.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
TeamDAF / Getty Images Plus

The climate crisis is getting costly. Some of the world's largest companies expect to take over one trillion in losses due to climate change. Insurers are increasingly jittery and the world's largest firm has warned that the cost of premiums may soon be unaffordable for most people. Historic flooding has wiped out farmers in the Midwest.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
The Eqip Sermia Glacier is seen behind a moraine left exposed by the glacier's retreat during unseasonably warm weather on Aug. 1 at Eqip Sermia, Greenland. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Andrew Yang's assertion that people move away from the coast at the last Democratic debate is the completely rational and correct choice for NASA scientists in Greenland.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
hadynyah / E+ / Getty Images

By Johnny Wood

The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.

The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.

Here are some of the challenges the river faces.

Read More Show Less

Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Jake Johnson

As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.


Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.

AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.

"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."


The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.

"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.

As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."

"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

DESIREE MARTIN / AFP / Getty Images

Wildfires raging on Gran Canaria, the second most populous of Spain's Canary Islands, have forced around 9,000 people to evacuate.

Read More Show Less