Amazon’s Carbon Footprint Grew 19% in 2020

In the biggest year to date for Amazon, the e-commerce giant’s carbon footprint expanded 19%.
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Fueled by a surge in demand from home-dwellers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon was on overdrive in 2020. And the company put out more carbon emissions than ever, according to Amazon’s latest sustainability report. The company considers its carbon footprint as the total greenhouse gas emissions attributed to Amazon’s direct and indirect operational activities.

2020 marks the third year in a row the company has reported a rising carbon footprint. 

However, Amazon maintains that ordering products online to be delivered is still less intensive on the carbon footprint than driving to a store, “since a single delivery van trip can take approximately 100 roundtrip car journeys off the road on average,” the report reads. Additionally, Amazon stated that its carbon intensity, or the measure of carbon emissions per dollar, decreased 16%, from 122.8 grams of CO2e per dollar of GMS in 2019 to 102.7 grams of CO2e per dollar of GMS in 2020.

While its carbon footprint went up, Amazon has been working on improving some sustainability measures. For example, Amazon announced earlier this year it was investing in a fleet of 100,000 electric delivery vehicles, reducing its dependence on oil. Plus, Amazon signed on to and co-founded the Climate Pledge, which aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2040. As part of its commitment, Amazon also committed to provide $2 billion in funding to the Climate Pledge Fund.

“It will take several years for the carbon reduction benefits of our investments to be fully reflected in our footprint. While we are still in the early phase of decarbonizing our business, we are pleased to see meaningful progress in several areas,” the report reads.

Amazon also has another goal for 50% of its shipments to achieve netzero carbon by 2030. The initiative is called Shipment Zero.

As Amazon grows, the retailer aims to continue improving its products and services--including its own devices--to meet sustainability goals. Doing so may take more uncoupling of carbon emissions from business growth.