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Amazon’s carbon emissions surged last year while global pollution dropped

Amazon said its carbon emissions surged 19 percent last year even as global pollution declined and the company publicly pledged to go green.

The Seattle-based e-tailing giant — whose business exploded last year on surging demand for home-delivered goods from locked-down consumers — said it spewed out 60.64 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020. That made Amazon a bigger polluter than entire countries like Ireland, Portugal and Singapore, according to European Union data

Amazon’s 2020 emissions represent a dramatic increase from the 51.17 million metric tons of carbon the company released in 2019 and 44.40 metric tons it expelled 2018, according to the company’s sustainability report released Wednesday. 

While Amazon’s carbon footprint expanded, overall global emissions fell by a surprising 7 percent in 2020 — the largest drop in history. 

An Amazon truck outside a warehouse.
Amazon spewed out a total of 60.64 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020.
AFP via Getty Images

The release of Amazon’s report comes amid a heat wave in the US and Canada that has killed more than 100 people and broken all-time temperature records in the company’s hometown of Seattle.  

Amazon has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2040 and power all of its business activities through renewable energy by 2025. As part of that push, the company is buying up energy capacity from solar and wind plants around the world.  

While Wednesday’s report shows that Amazon still has a long way to go before reaching its climate goals, the company insists it is moving in the right direction. 

Jeff Bezos
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos insists the company is making progress on its climate goals.
AFP via Getty Images

As evidence that Amazon is becoming more energy efficient as it expands, the firm pointed the fact that a metric called “carbon intensity” — which tracks carbon emissions per dollar of sales — declined by 16 percent from 2019 to 2020. 

“Investing in green technologies is the right thing to do for the planet and citizens —as well as for the long-term success of businesses of all sizes across all industries everywhere,” founder Jeff Bezos, who is preparing to step down as CEO and blast into space, said in June. 

An Amazon truck.
As evidence that Amazon is becoming more energy efficient as it expands, the firm pointed the fact that a metric called “carbon intensity” — which tracks carbon emissions per dollar of sales — declined by 16 percent from 2019 to 2020. 
Getty Images

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