Amazon’s CO2 emissions increased by 18% in 2021

Amazon has just published its annual sustainability report and its results are not very positive. The company’s CO2 emissions have indeed increased by 18% compared to 2020. They had already increased by 19% in 2020.

Strong activity due to the pandemic

The e-commerce giant emitted the equivalent of 71.54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, roughly as much pollution as 180 gas-fired power plants emit each year, says The Verge. Amazon justifies this in particular by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting explosion of the e-commerce sector, with many people choosing to buy products online in order to practice social distancing, which which boosted Amazon’s profits.

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As a result, the firm doubled the size of the fulfillment network it had built over the previous 25 years, and made many more deliveries. It also added data centers to support Amazon Web Services (AWS), as demand for cloud computing surged following the pandemic. As a reminder, AWS is the first cloud provider in the world.

As we work to decarbonize our business, Amazon is growing rapidly. We have scaled our business at an unprecedented rate to help meet the needs of our customers during the pandemic says the company in its sustainability report.

An Amazon Prime delivery van.

Amazon’s business increased in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Photography: Andrew Stickelman / Unsplash

Amazon criticized for the way it calculates its emissions

Yet Amazon is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2040, and has announced a $2 billion investment in new climate technologies. In order to counterbalance, the company explains that ” the focus should not only be on a company’s carbon footprint in terms of absolute carbon emissions, but also on reducing its carbon intensity “. This term refers to the ratio of CO2 emissions to a company’s production, and Amazon assures that its carbon intensity has fallen by 1.9%, a figure which is still minimal.

Moreover, the carbon intensity is less significant if the activity of the company has increased from one year to the next, as is the case here with Amazon. The e-commerce giant has made decisions to reduce its carbon impact, including signing a contract with Rivian to obtain 100,000 electric delivery vans, but for the time being its efforts are not being felt in its CO2 emissions.

You should also be aware that the figures released by Amazon may be skewed, the way it reports its shows having already created controversy in the past. Indeed, unlike rivals like Target or Walmart, Amazon does not include emissions related to the manufacturing of many of the products it sells. It only takes into account the carbon emissions associated with the use of Amazon-branded products, not those it buys from manufacturers and sells directly to the customer.

In total, the firm’s carbon emissions have increased by 40% since it began to disclose them publicly in 2019.

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