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Amazon's carbon footprint soared by 18 percent last year, fuelled by pandemic shopping and expansion

By Don-Alvin Adegeest



Image: Carbon footprint via Pexels

The world’s largest online retailer is facing colossal challenges to reduce its carbon footprint. A surge in pandemic shopping showed Amazon’s 2021 carbon emissions grew 18 percent. As the e-commerce behemoth aims to grow its businesses, so does its footprint.

Despite the electrical vehicles it uses for some of its deliveries; a switch to renewable energies and automating processes, Amazon has significantly increased its environmental impact since it began releasing official figures in 2019. In those two years, Amazon’s carbon footprint surged 40 percent.

Amazon is allowing itself 18 years to be carbon neutral by 2040. Compare this to Denmark, a country succeeding in its long-term goals to be a carbon neutral society, and who set intermediate goals to be at 30 percent renewable energy sources by 2020 and reached these in 2016.

Amazon said the scale at which it moves products, manufactures goods and creates computing capacity means some of its businesses are more carbon-intensive. Between 2020 and 2021 Amazon doubled the size of its fulfilment network and expanded its transportation network.

Compare Amazon to an e-commerce giant like Farfetch, and Amazon comes out as the monopolistic retail giant, buying from brands, stocking merchandise and shipping to customers, often squashing the small high street business or boutique owner.

Amazon's C02 output matches that of Bangladesh

In metrics, Amazon’s carbon output measured 71.54 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent produced by countries such as Bangladesh. It is 30 percent higher than the output of the US government of 47.50 million metric tonnes of CO2 in the same year.

Amazon’s true footprint may be much higher, as its reporting does not include emissions produced from manufacturing of its third-party products.

Still, the news was not all bad. Amazon said its carbon intensity fell -1.9 percent. This measurement quantifies total carbon C02 emissions per dollar of gross merchandise sales (GMS).

In a statement Amazon said: “This year-over-year carbon intensity comparison reflects our early progress to decarbonize our operations as we also continue to grow as a company. Nearly half of our carbon intensity improvement is a result of our investments in renewable energy and operational efficiency enhancements.”

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