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As Amazon's carbon emissions surge, it pledges $2 billion to fight climate change

Examining Amazon's treatment of its workers
How Amazon is handling the coronavirus pandemic 13:17

Amazon said Tuesday that its carbon footprint rose 15% last year, even before the coronavirus-fueled surge in online shopping boosted its coffers.

The online shopping giant said it emitted 51.17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, the equivalent of 13 coal-burning power plants running for a year. That's up from 2018, when it emitted 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Amazon disclosed its carbon footprint for the first time last year after employees and investors pressured the company to do more to combat climate change. It has since fired two of the workers who have been critical of the company's climate stance.

The Seattle-based company said that though its carbon footprint grew, the amount of carbon it emitted for every dollar spent on the site, a measure it calls "carbon intensity," fell between 2018 and 2019. 

Amazon also said it's on track to have 100% of its energy use come from solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable energy by 2025, five years earlier than it had planned. Much of Amazon's energy use fuels the computer servers that store massive amounts of both consumer and corporate customer data through the Amazon Web Services cloud-computing services division. 

But the increase in Amazon's carbon foot print shows how tricky it is for a rapidly growing company to cut down on pollution. Amazon depends on fuel-guzzling planes and trucks to ship billions of items a year around the world. Emissions from fossil fuels rose 18% last year, Amazon said Tuesday.

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Delivery orders have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, as more people are stuck at home and are shopping online. To keep up, and deliver on time, Amazon said earlier this month that it leased 12 additional Boeing 767s, bringing its fleet of jets to more than 80.

On Tuesday, Amazon announced it would start a $2 billion fund to invest in companies that make products and technology that help protect the Earth. Earlier this year, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos said he would spend $10 billion of his personal fortune to fund scientists, activists and nonprofits working to help fight climate change.

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