'This is where the future is going:’ Amazon exec on $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund

Amazon (AMZN) launched a $ 2 billion venture capital fund on Tuesday to invest in greenhouse gas emissions reduction technologies and services. Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Kara Hurst, director of global sustainability at Amazon, said the move was another step to take advantage of the e-commerce giant's "scale for good" as it sets aggressive goals to be carbon neutral by 2040 to become.
"This is where the future goes, where our products and services are needed, and the fund is another signal of the investment we want to make," said Hurst in the Yahoo Finance ticker.
The Climate Pledge Fund will invest in companies from various sectors, with its initial focus on transportation and logistics. Energy generation, storage and use; Manufacture and materials; Circular economy; and food and agriculture, Amazon said.
The fund is the Seattle-based company's latest move to reduce its carbon footprint in the face of explosive growth in the e-commerce and cloud computing businesses. Last September, the company launched its climate protection promise to achieve its net zero carbon footprint by 2040, a decade before the CO2 reduction targets set in the Paris Agreement.
In a statement on Tuesday, CEO Jeff Bezos said the money from the fund would go to “visionary entrepreneurs and innovators” who help companies reduce their carbon footprint.
"Companies from all over the world of all sizes and stages are taken into account, from the start in front of the product to established companies," said Bezos. "Every potential investment is judged on its potential to accelerate the path to zero carbon and protect the planet for future generations."
Just last week, Amazon announced that Verizon Communications (VZ), Yahoo Finance's parent company, Infosys (INFY), and Reckitt Benckiser Group (RBGLY) will also join the Climate Pledge.
Amazon's latest sustainability report highlights the challenges the company faces by balancing sustainability with global growth. While the company's carbon intensity, the amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy consumed, decreased by 5% last year, Amazon still increased its carbon footprint by 15% in 2019. This was due to the 22% increase in net sales.
"This is a good leading indicator. As we grow as a company, we still decarbonize as we grow," said Hurst.
Amazon has already announced 91 renewable energy projects around the world. The company is thus on the way to working 100% with renewable energies by 2025, five years before its target for 2030. It has also set itself the goal of reducing the CO2 footprint for its shipments by 50% during this period . Hurst said that since 2015, the company's sustainability efforts have eliminated 33% of Amazon packaging waste through its Frustration Free Packaging program, avoiding the use of 1.5 billion boxes.
Rows of Amazon Prime vans are being stored in lots at the Cox Automotive Inc. vehicle auction site in Manheim, Pittsburgh, on Wednesday May 13, 2020, in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. The company announced earlier this week that hundreds of workers will be vacationing here and there more in other locations across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo / Keith Srakocic)
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“This is a packaging solution for our customers that minimizes waste, ie no cable ties or conch shells, 100% recyclable, no pressure on the box. We expanded that and really drove into what we call a ship in its own container if we don't put an Amazon overbox over a product, so it might just be labeled, ”said Hurst.
Concerns about environmental waste have only increased as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic and the measures to stay at home, which have led to an increase in online sales and deliveries. In March alone, the culmination of the pandemic in the United States, the Amazon website received 2.5 billion visitors, according to the online research company Comscore, an increase of 65% compared to the same period last year. Revenue increased 26% in the first quarter.
Amazon has been increasingly pressured by employees to set more aggressive climate goals. Earlier this year, more than 350 Amazon Employees for Climate Justice employees violated their communication guidelines to raise concerns about the company's business with oil and gas companies.
Hurst said the company aims to be carbon neutral by 2040, in part through carbon offsetting.
"We don't see this as" either or situation ", but as" both and "," said Hurst. "We do not know exactly what we will need in the next 20 years, but we will now mainly focus on decarbonising our own company in the short term."
Akiko Fujita is a moderator and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AkikoFujita
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