'Great for the bottom line but awful for society': More than 350 Amazon workers slammed its climate policies in defiance of a crackdown on dissent

Jeff Bezos Amazon Climate pledge

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • More than 350 Amazon employees have risked the company's wrath by publicly slamming its climate change policies and other aspects of the business via a Medium post.
  • Employees put their names to demands such as reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030; spending more cash on fighting climate change; and shuttering home security arm Ring.
  • That's despite the fact Amazon workers face dismissal for criticizing the company publicly.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

More than 350 Amazon employees have published their names alongside criticism of the retail giant's record on climate change, despite an Amazon policy change barring workers from speaking publicly about the firm.

The 357 employees were organized by the employee activism group Amazon Workers for Climate Justice, and published their names and various criticisms in a Medium blog post.Advertisement

The pro-environmental drive among Amazon workers has been gaining steam since April 2019, when Amazon Workers for Climate Justice published an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos calling for a more effective climate change policy. Two common criticisms by the employees are: Amazon's relationship with the oil and gas industry, and its commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2040.

"I am thankful Amazon is committed to net-zero emissions by 2040, but we simply do not have the time. For a company like Amazon, we need to be net-zero by 2030 at the latest," one worker wrote in the new Medium post.

Another appeared to criticize CEO Jeff Bezos pouring money into his space exploration company Blue Origin: "Amazon, the Earth is our only home. Spend more money on fighting Climate Change than on space exploration!"
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Amazon's response is that it is already leading the way in combatting climate change.

"We founded the Climate Pledge, committing to net-zero carbon by 2040, which is ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement. We plan to be using 100% renewable energy by 2030, and we have thousands of people working on sustainability initiatives across the company," a company spokesman told Business Insider.Earlier in January, members of Amazon Workers for Climate Justice said they were threatened with dismissal for speaking out about the company's climate change policies following a policy change in September 2019 which forbade workers from speaking publicly about company policy without seeking approval from management.Advertisement

Some workers addressed the policy change head-on in the Medium post.

"The only reason these workers have been singled out for violating communication policies is for speaking truth to power," wrote one software engineer.

"It is vital for us as Amazon employees to not be intimidated by this action, and to continue pushing and speaking out against the problems in society that our company exacerbates. Contributing to climate change, supporting ICE, and brutal labor conditions in the warehouses are great for the bottom line but awful for society. And we cannot remain silent on these issues."Advertisement

An Amazon spokesman confirmed to Business Insider that the policy remains in force.

"While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems," he said.

Not all the criticisms voiced in the blog post were exclusively aimed at climate change. One employee took aim at Amazon's home-security camera business Ring, which has been criticized for essentially establishing a large and intrusive surveillance network.Advertisement

"The deployment of connected home security cameras that allow footage to be queried centrally are simply not compatible with a free society. The privacy issues are not fixable with regulation and there is no balance that can be struck. Ring should be shut down immediately and not brought back," they wrote.

Another criticized the company's safety record for its deliveries:

"Amazon's last-mile delivery network should be designed to deliver packages safely first, and in a timely manner second. Today's system incentivizes unsafe driving, and appears to be designed to insulate Amazon from liability, rather than to promote ownership and accountability."Advertisement

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