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Amazon says its carbon footprint rose hugely last year

Amazon revealed that its carbon footprint grew 18% last year, reaching approximately 71.54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

For reference, that’s roughly equivalent to the numbers produced by countries like Austria and Bangladesh, and slightly more than the 47.50 million metric tons of CO2 the US government produced last year.

According to the latest information from the company sustainability report (opens in new tab), Amazon’s 2021 numbers also represent a pretty mammoth increase compared to its pre-pandemic output. up 40% from 2019, when carbon emissions were 51.17 million tons, but before the pandemic pushed the e-commerce industry to new heights.

What drives the wave?

The rise is due in part to doubling the size of Amazon’s fulfillment network in 2021, as well as an expanded network of data centers.

The impressive figure comes despite former CEO Jeff Bezos promising in 2019 that Amazon would be completely carbon neutral by 2040 and calling on other organizations to do the same.

It’s important to note that the figures do not include the emissions produced by manufacturing any of the third-party products that Amazon sells, so this may not give a full picture of Amazon’s true environmental costs.

However, Amazon can at least become more carbon efficient, the “Carbon intensity, the number of grams of CO2 emissions per dollar of gross merchandise sales (GMS) decreased by -1.9%.

This could mean the tech giant delivers products and runs its warehouses, data centers and offices more sustainably, however, it’s unlikely to make a huge difference to overall C02 output if the business continues to expand.

But Amazon isn’t the only big tech company producing massive amounts of C02.

Microsoft saw its carbon footprint grow 21% to nearly 13.8 million metric tons last year, up from just 11.2 million metric tons in 2020.

Amazon plows some of its profits back into sustainability, however, as the company last year invested in 100,000 electric vehicles from electric automaker Rivian as part of efforts to decarbonize its fleet.

“This year-over-year comparison of carbon intensity reflects our progress in decarbonizing our operations as we continue to grow as a company,” said an Amazon spokesperson.

“Nearly half of the improvement in carbon intensity is a result of our investments in renewable energy and operational efficiency improvements.”

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