Jeff Bezos is determined to rewrite Amazon’s reputation as a sweat shop burdening the environment.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, the world’s richest man unveiled a bold plan for his company to tackle climate change, aiming to reduce Amazon’s carbon emissions to zero by the end of the next decade while encouraging other companies to go carbon neutral by 2040.
The initiative, called the “Climate Pledge,” plans to boost Amazon’s use of renewable energy across all operations from the current level of 40% to 80% by 2024 and then gradually transition to 100% clean energy by 2030.
A key component of the plan will be to clean up Amazon’s heavily gas-fueled logistics system. Bezos said Amazon would accomplish this goal by purchasing 100,000 electric delivery vans from Detroit-based electric truck startup Rivian Automotive, a Tesla rival backed by Amazon itself, as well as auto giants GM and Ford.
Bezos said the first fleet of electric delivery vans will hit the road by 2021, with the rest being deployed by 2024.
In February, Amazon led a $700 million funding round for Rivian, in which Amazon contributed $440 million and partners committed the rest. In April, Ford announced a $500 million investment in the startup. And earlier this month, auto industry giant Cox Automotive followed up with a $350 million investment.
Rivian unveiled its first electric pickup model, R1T, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in late 2018. The company plans to start shipping to customers next year.
To Amazon, or Bezos personally, the point of the Climate Pledge is to prove that if Amazon can do this, every company can.
“We want to use our scale and our scope to lead the way,” Bezos said in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. “One of the things we know about Amazon, as a role model for this, is that it’s a difficult challenge for us because we have deep, large physical infrastructure. So, if we can do this, anyone can do this.”
If all goes according to Bezos’ plan, Amazon and its partners will accomplish the zero-emissions goal 10 years ahead of the schedule set by the Paris climate agreement of 2015.