Amazon has just delivered, as every year, a transparency report devoted to the environmental impact of its activity. In full growth, the company, which has not been able to reduce its emissions, nevertheless tries to keep up appearances.
Since 2019, Amazon has been engaged – timidly – in a communication exercise around its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In its latest report, we find that the company emitted the equivalent of 71.54 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.2which represents an increase of 18% compared to 2020. This figure is even 40% higher than that of 2019.
Suffice to say that Amazon is not exactly on the trajectory that should allow it to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040, as Jeff Bezos had nevertheless committed when he was CEO. Or else, Amazon will have to buy a very large quantity of good to pollute, and invest massively in projects deemed beneficial for the environment. Of course, all companies – particularly multinationals the size of Amazon – use these devices to green their image without having to upset their habits. But the leaders of tech have all committed to concrete actions to reduce their impact, between the use of renewable energies and the use of recycled materials. Amazon, because of its more commercial than industrial activity, will undoubtedly find it more difficult to make tangible efforts, and must assume the increase in its emissions in a context – the year 2021 – where its activity was on the rise. .
The figures published by Amazon therefore only serve as a reminder that for a company to improve its balance sheet from an ecological point of view, it has no choice but to adopt measures of sobriety and the drastic elimination of its actual emissions. A complex equation to solve when you report your financial results to your shareholders each quarter in a capitalist logic. So, as our colleagues at The Verge point out, Amazon’s communications department is working to make the company’s balance sheet as “green” as possible.
In this case, Amazon insists on reducing (by only 1.9%… only) its “carbon intensity“. A term that hides the connection of the company’s emissions with the merchandise it sells. Thus, between 2020 and 2021, Amazon emitted 1.9% of CO equivalent2 less for every dollar of revenue generated. Nice try, but everyone knows that in 2021, Amazon’s turnover exploded, making the calculation obsolete. “As we work to decarbonize our business, Amazon is growing rapidly. We have scaled our business at an unprecedented rate to meet the needs of our customers during the pandemic“, recognizes Amazon. And to make matters worse, we will remember that like most companies in its sector, when the time comes to calculate an environmental impact in equivalent CO2 emissions2Amazon evades the question of the manufacture of the products sold on its platform.
Of course, it is relevant and necessary to have access to such indicators to be able to gauge the efforts of each other, but the company here provides a truncated perspective on its real environmental impact. An impact that also results from the artificialization of soils and emissions linked to the construction and operation of a growing number of warehouses around the world, not to mention a major aspect of Amazon’s activity, here also set aside: delivery. In short, the pollution caused by Amazon’s activity is numerous and massive. It will therefore be interesting to see whether, in the near future, the large multinationals, driven by the ambitious emission reduction targets to which many countries have committed themselves, will come out of this logic of superficial greening of their image to adopt real behaviors eco-responsible. Amazon employees are also the first to claim it.