$2bn in funding for climate conscious entrepreneurs

Amazon has “doubled down” on its environmental commitment, diverting $2 billion to a global fund to support climate-conscious entrepreneurs and the decarbonisation of multiple global industries.

Noting the “massive shift” that has happened in 2020 due to Covid-19, the firm wrote: “We know there is a lot of uncertainty in the world, and we also know that during these critical times, it is more important than ever to double down on our commitments relating to the climate crisis.”

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Amazon was shipping an average 2.5 billion packages a year. Since 2015 the company has reduced the weight of outbound packaging, but only by 33%, which has eliminated more than 880,000 tons of packaging material. That is the equivalent of only 1.5 billion shipping boxes, which over five years, equates to slightly over half of a single year’s total.

However, in stepping up its commitment, the Climate Pledge Fund – co-founded last year by Amazon and Global Optimism – is intended to help achieve the Paris Agreement 10 years early, and reach net zero carbon by 2040, among other goals.

Verizon, Reckitt Benckiser (RB), and Infosys all recently joined the pledge.

With an initial budget of US$2 billion, Amazon said the fund will accelerate investment in innovations for the “zero carbon economy of the future”, encompassing such industries as transportation and logistics, energy generation, storage and utilisation, manufacturing and materials, the circular economy, and food and agriculture.

“The Climate Pledge Fund will look to invest in the visionary entrepreneurs and innovators who are building products and services to help companies reduce their carbon impact and operate more sustainably,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, who has seen his fortune grow by more than $20 billion over the course of pandemic.

“Companies from around the world of all sizes and stages will be considered, from pre-product start-ups to well-established enterprises. Each prospective investment will be judged on its potential to accelerate the path to zero carbon and help protect the planet for future generations.”

Progress report

The news coincided with the release of Amazon’s 2019 sustainability report, which confirmed the company is “on a path” to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of schedule.

Elsewhere, the report noted that, to date, Amazon had announced 91 renewable energy projects globally, totalling more than 2,900MW of capacity and delivering more than 7.6 million MWh of renewable energy annually – enough to power 680,000 US homes.

The new figures follow a 2019 report from Greenpeace which revealed that some of Amazon’s major data centres run on as little as 12% renewable energy. Since then the firm has announced five new utility-scale solar projects to power global operations in China, Australia, and the US.

These projects will supply renewable energy to the fulfilment centres and AWS data centres that support millions of customers globally.

In the last year, Amazon has made two investments in nature-based solutions and reforestation projects from its $100 million Right Now Climate Fund. These included a reforestation project in the Appalachians and an urban greening initiative in Berlin, Germany.