Amazon shareholders vote down proposal for climate change plan

Shareholders at Amazon’s AGM in May voted against a resolution for the company to create a comprehensive plan on addressing its climate impacts. The resolution had been backed by over 7,683 employees who signed an open letter to the company in April 2019. 

The letter asked Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of the world’s most valuable public company, to establish a comprehensive plan for reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 and to prioritise climate impacts when making business decisions.

It criticised the company’s work “helping fossil fuel companies accelerate and expand oil and gas extraction”, after the company was found to have been courting the fossil fuel industry and offering specialised services to companies such as Shell and BP earlier this year. The letter also demanded that the company begin pushing for necessary legislation on climate change, denouncing its political donations to 68 members of the US congress who, in 2018, voted against climate legislation 100% of the time.

Workers from the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice who attended the AGM have stated that Bezos refused to speak to or acknowledge them during the event.

“Jeff’s inaction and lack of meaningful response underscore his dismissal of the climate crisis,” the group stated, “and spoke volumes about how Amazon’s Board continues to de-prioritize addressing Amazon’s role in the climate emergency.” The resolution was formally opposed by the board of the company as well as Bezos who owns a 16% stake.

Nonetheless, the group has celebrated the fact that 31% of shareholders, equating to $185.5 billion in investments, voted in favour of the resolution.

The workers also call on the company to recognise that “climate impact will be felt first and hardest by Black, Indigenous, and other communities of colour, particularly in the Global South.” They are calling for fair treatment of workers facing climate disruptions and for the company to prioritise addressing its pollution impacts in these communities.

Criticism from the company’s employees reflects Ethical Consumer’s own analysis of Amazon’s environmental commitments

The company receives Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for Environmental Reporting and continues to be subject to a boycott call for its tax avoidance tactics.

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