Amazon’s carbon emissions increase 18% last year driven by pandemic shopping


Amazon’s carbon emissions increase 18% last year driven by pandemic shopping


Amazon emitted 71.54 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2021, up 18% from 2020 and a jump of 40% from 2019, according to its sustainability report issued Monday. 

The carbon footprint emitted is equivalent to one and a half times the amount the U.S. government emitted in 2019.

Amazon’s carbon intensity fell by 1.9% in 2021, showing that it becomes more efficient in delivering products and running its warehouses, data centers and offices. Carbon intensity measures emissions per dollar of sales.

Massive influx of orders during the pandemic pushed the e-commerce giant to expand its logistics network of delivery vans and open new warehouses to meet surging demand. It also added more data centers to support Amazon Web Services.

The data released by Amazon, however, is surely underestimated. A report from Reveal found that the retail giant only counts carbon emissions for Amazon-branded products, while other retailers such as Walmart and Target account for pollution related to any goods they sell.

Amazon’s self-owned brand products only make up around 1% of its total sales. The carbon emissions from other 99% of what's sold through its online marketplace is accounted independently. However, many companies in charge of those products probably fall short of the need for mandated emissions reporting.

Amazon has pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2040. The company plans to buy credits from projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere and also cut emissions with electric vehicles and other operational initiatives. As a company with many operational activities, it’s a huge challenge for Amazon to seeks to grow like a startup while achieve net-zero climate pledge.

“The challenges we collectively face on the path to net-zero carbon are considerable,” Amazon said in its report. “Many new technologies are showing promise in their ability to reduce carbon emissions but may still require significant development.”

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