In this episode of Good Equals Progress, our webcast focusing on all things sustainability and beyond, I’m joined by Lauren Kirkpatrick, a junior analyst and my colleague here at Futurum Research. This was a big week for Amazon and sustainability initiatives, alliances, and announcements, and we wanted to touch on some of them. For starters, Climate Week – it’s billed as the biggest climate event on Earth and is all about driving climate action, fast.
Amazon was both a sponsor and a participant at the Climate Week 2022 event held in NYC this week in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly. The event brought together a fantastic collection of brilliant and passionate global experts from the climate community, the world of business, government, and beyond and the focus of the event was “Getting It Done” —driving climate action fast, because it’s not exactly like we have any time to waste.
Our webcast today covered the following hot topics:
- The Climate Pledge, which Amazon co-founded with Global Optimism in 2019, now boasts more than 375 signatories which include Impossible include Impossible Foods, the Seattle Storm (4-time WNBA champs), and adventure gear brand Cotopaxi. American Family Insurance, Figma, HPE, Prologis, Ripple, the Seattle Aquarium and more. 375 companies, across 53 industries and 34 countries and growing.
- Amazon Water.org partnership announced. Amazon announced a partnership with Water.org to provide safe water to 100 million people.
- Amazon expands renewable energy projects. Amazon announced 69 new renewable energy projects, bringing the total to 377 renewables projects around the world, up from 310 projects in April. These new projects include the expansion of its renewable energy investments, including the first renewable projects in South America, India, and Poland.
- Amazon Partners with Infinium. Amazon announced a new agreement with Infinium, one of the green energy companies funded by The Climate Pledge Fund, to build a commercial electrofuels production facility — the first of its kind. Amazon intends to use the ultra-low carbon electrofuels in its diesel cargo trucks beginning with pilot programs in 2023.
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And if you couldn’t attend and want to watch the presentations on demand, you can do that by checking out the Climate Week event here.
Good Equals Progress provides industry research and analysis on the topics of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.
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Shelly Kramer: Hello and welcome to Good Equals Progress. Good Equals Progress is a new webcast that joins our Futurum Tech Webcast family of shows. I’m your host Shelly Kramer. I’m a principal analyst and founding partner here at Futurum Research, and today I’m joined by my colleague and junior analyst, Lauren Kirkpatrick. Today we are going to cover news coming out of Climate Week 2022 from Amazon. So it was a big week for Amazon and sustainability initiatives and announcements. And we wanted to tell you there are more announcements than we can touch on here, but we wanted to touch on the ones that we thought were particularly interesting. I’m going to kick that off talking about The Climate Pledge and the announcement by Amazon of an additional 40 signers added to The Climate Pledge.
So some backstory here is probably helpful. Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge in 2019 with Global Optimism. The Climate Pledge is a call to organizations. It’s a call to action to organizations across the world to get involved and to take action on climate change and to pledge to work together to ensure the health of the planet. No small undertaking, right? When I wrote about The Climate Pledge in March of this year, it was exciting because what I covered then was the fact that The Climate Pledge had… The organization had experienced 600% growth moving from 200 signatories in September of 2021 to 312 in March of 2022. That’s awesome, right? But today, even more awesome, The Climate Pledge has more than 375 signatories, including some of the new ones. And by the way, there are many companies that you’ve never heard of, organizations of all different sizes. There’s no requirement in terms of sector or company size or anything like that. So don’t let that scare you off if you’re thinking about participating in The Climate Pledge.
However, I do like to highlight sometimes some of the big names in participants, and some of the newest signers include Impossible Foods, the Seattle Storm, the four time WNBA Champs, go Storm, the adventure gear brand Cotopaxi, American Family Insurance, Figma, who’s been in the news this week, HPE, Prologis, Ripple, the Seattle Aquarium, and many more. So here we are, 375 countries across 53 industries and 34 countries and growing. And I wanted to also share, every time I write or talk about The Climate Pledge, I’m just such a fan girl. But I do believe that it is such an important organization. What becoming a member, what becoming a signer of the pledge requires is a commitment by your organization to be net zero carbon by 2040. That’s 10 full years ahead of the Paris Agreement. So it is no small pledge. It is no small undertaking.
Organizations who make the commitment all play very important roles in the development of and the investment in low carbon services, products, and their commitments to The Climate Pledge. So The Climate Pledge represented a big vision and a bold statement. Global businesses are responsible for what’s happening, for what has happened to planet Earth, and they need to be accountable for helping to drive transformative action and affecting change, migrating away from some of the damaging things that we’re doing, protecting the environment from the impact of climate change. So really is an important undertaking. One of the things that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder said early on when The Climate Pledge organization was first founded was that if a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon, which delivers more than 10 billion items a year, can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, any company can. I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to argue there.
So this is incredibly important. Something coming out just this spring was in April of ’22, the UN released a report which found that increasing corporate and government greenhouse gas emissions across all major sectors globally, were pushing the planet toward a tipping point that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate effects. Folks, the reality of it is, I think we’re already seeing a lot of those. What’s happening in Pakistan, what’s happening… Tsunamis in Japan and flooding here in the United States and drought and wildfires. I mean, you name it all over the world, we’re experiencing the effects of climate change.
The last thing I’m going say about The Climate Pledge that I can’t talk about without mentioning this is that in addition to organizations signing and committing to The Climate Pledge, The Climate Pledge also has an investment fund, and they use that investment fund to invest in organizations who are working on solutions, climate change related solutions. And so that’s really cool as well. And we will hear about one of those companies here later on in the show. Lauren, I know you’re familiar with The Climate Pledge. What do you think?
Lauren Kirkpatrick: Yeah, I think it’s wonderful to see so many companies that have signed onto this agreement. And I think it’s great to see companies taking responsibility and not waiting until governments step up and saying that they have to take responsibility. With 375 that have signed on so far is really impressive. And like you said, it’s really great to see that there in so many different areas and industries from that WNBA team to technology sectors.
Shelly Kramer: Well, to the Seattle Aquarium. I mean there’s a Seattle focus right now. Obviously Amazon is headquartered in Seattle. That is not where all these organizations are. But I do always think it’s interesting to mention the little guys who are a part of this because all of us are in this together, right? And so I think sometimes when people hear about a commitment like this, a pledge like this, a partnership like this between Amazon and Global Optimism to develop The Climate Pledge, I think sometimes people think, “Oh, those are all big players. I’m too small to make a difference.” But the reality of it is we all make a difference. And so I think that is really, really exciting. And I think that Amazon is a giant, right? And so seeing what that company is able to do and committed to doing to affecting change, I think is super important.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: Absolutely.
Shelly Kramer: With that, we are going to continue our conversation about news coming out of Climate Week with a partnership. I know Amazon announced a partnership with Water.org to provide safe water to a hundred million people. Tell us about it.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: Yes. For the first part of the week, Amazon announced the partnership with Water.org to launch the Water & Climate Fund, which is focused on climate resilient water and sanitation solutions that will give access to clean drinking water to a hundred million people across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. And to kickstart the fund, Amazon is donating $10 million, which will directly empower one million people with water access by 2025. And with that $10 million will provide three billion liters of water per year in areas facing water scarcity. Other projects that 10 million will cover will include water reuse infrastructure, waste water treatment plants, and water loss reduction.
Shelly Kramer: That’s really cool.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: And this is so important because as the overall temperature increases across the globe, more people are facing problems with their water supply. I mean, especially people in impoverished areas because they often lack access to reliable water. They lack the funds for sanitation systems and are struggling to navigate droughts, shifting precipitation patterns, and then of course the impacts of other weather disasters.
Shelly Kramer: I think that so many of us take water and clean water for granted. And yet here in the United States, we have Flint, Michigan. We have Jackson, Mississippi. We have the Colorado River drying up. We have serious drought problems in the West. We have California mandating how often and how much you can water your yards. And I read a really interesting article today about the water situation here in the US, which is different than it is in developing countries. And with all of our problems, we still have a much better lie than a lot of these countries have. But one of the things that this article was talking about was almond production. And actually the biggest use of water, for instance, in the state of California is not humans. It’s agriculture.
And so then when you start thinking about what are we going to do? How are we going to… The supply of almonds, which a lot of… I mean, that’s a really big market. Uses so much water, it’s incredible. Actually, there was a great episode of Goliath, or a season of Goliath, Billy Bob Thornton’s Amazon Prime series, and it’s been out for a few years. But that whole episode of that show focuses on California and almond ranchers. And it’s really a fascinating… I feel like I know so much about the almond production industry basically because I watched that series. But the reality of it is, it is a huge problem. It is a huge problem in developing countries. And so this is really great. This will make a big difference.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: Yeah. And to continue on that, I think one of the things here in the United States, we hear a lot about our own water issues, like you said, but we don’t often hear about the water issues that people around the world are facing. I went to Water.org, which is Matt Damon’s nonprofit. I went to their website today and read some statistics, which were actually really shocking to me. 771 million people, which is one in 10 people, lack access to safe water in their home. And 1.7 billion people, which is one in four in the world, don’t have access to a toilet. I mean, that’s just shocking. And then also by 2025, 50% of the world’s population is projected to live in water stressed areas as a result of climate change.
Shelly Kramer: And so bottom line, we don’t have time to waste here.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: We don’t.
Shelly Kramer: So it really is. I feel like a lot of the ways that we have collectively, the world over dealt with these thorny issues. And sometimes they’re mired in politics and that sort of thing, has just been like, “We’ll worry about it later.” And we don’t have any more laters to worry about it. So it’s really great.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: It’s later now.
Shelly Kramer: You’re right. It’s later now. That’s a great slogan, right? So speaking of important projects, we’re now going to talk about another one. Some more news coming out this week. Amazon has expanded its renewable energy projects with firsts in Brazil and India and Poland. So what’s cool about this is that Amazon’s news is that it’s expanded its renewable energy investments. It’s added a whopping 71 new projects. And this includes projects in Brazil, India, and Poland.
And that brings the total of the company’s renewable energy projects to 379, which is no small number. And it consists of 154 wind and solar farms, 225 rooftop solar projects, representing a not at all small 18.5 gigawatts of renewable capacity, renewable energy capacity across 21 countries. So that’s a very big deal. And Brazil is key here because Brazil represents the company’s first renewable energy project in South America. And all of this is important because Amazon is the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy across the globe. That really should not come as a surprise, right? Amazon has a very ambitious goal of reaching a hundred percent renewable energy across the whole of its business by 2025. Oh, hey, it’s 2022. That means that Amazon needs the ability to power their massive data centers, their fulfillment operations, their corporate offices across the globe, and really every part of their business.
And something I think that’s worth noting here is that by 2021, Amazon had already reached 85% renewable energy across its business. So it’s clear. What I love about this is that it’s clear that Amazon is not just talking the talk with partnerships with Water.org and with The Climate Pledge and all of that. Amazon is absolutely walking the walk as it relates to sustainability and renewable energy, and I think that’s really important. So how big is this news in terms of renewable energy? I think that in a word, it is huge. Once fully operational, Amazon’s global energy portfolio will generate 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy. The equivalent… And when you hear that, you’re like, “I don’t know what that means.” Right? Well, I’m going to tell you what it means. That’s the equivalent of the amount of electricity needed to power 4.6 million homes in the United States each year.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: Wow.
Shelly Kramer: That’s a lot.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: That is a lot.
Shelly Kramer: And last but not least on this front is probably also important to note that in order to help scale the benefits of its investments in renewables, Amazon is working with the Clean Energy Buyers Institute Beyond the Megawatt Initiative. And their work there, their partnership there is to ensure that the industry as a whole is maximizing the economic, the environmental, and the social impact of energy procurement. So not only is Amazon deploying these kind of initiatives, the company is setting a leading example by investing in renewables, investing in companies, developing clean energy solutions, sustainable supply chain, next-gen procurement tools, all of those things. So I thought that was really terrific news coming out of Climate Week 2022, and it’s hard to pick a favorite. Right?
Lauren Kirkpatrick: Absolutely.
Shelly Kramer: These are all great things. These are all great things. So we’re going to wrap our show today talking about Amazon’s announcement of a new agreement with Infinium. So tell us a little bit about that, Lauren.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: I’ll start with a little backstory on Infinium. Amazon previously invested in the company through The Climate Pledge Fund at the beginning of 2021. They are a renewable fuels technology company, and what they do is they convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen feed stocks into net zero carbon fuels for the use in transportation fleets, whether it’s air, marine, or heavy truck fleets. So this new partnership that Amazon announced, they are working with Infinium to power Amazon’s middle mile transportation fleet with ultra low carbon electrofuels replacing diesel starting next year. Infinium is expected to initially supply enough electrofuels to begin powering the Amazon trucks in lieu of diesel fuel for approximately 5 million miles per year. That’s a lot of travel.
Shelly Kramer: That’s a lot.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: And the middle mile fleet is what Amazon considers the trucks that move orders from vendors and fulfillment centers to sortation facilities and delivery stations. So these are the semi-trucks that you see on the road that are packed full of packages. To get started, Infinium will build a production facility in Texas, and they haven’t announced exactly where in Texas yet that a facility will be built. But I can imagine that it’ll bring hundreds, if not thousands of jobs to the state,
Shelly Kramer: Right. Absolutely.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: Amazon’s delivery fleet has to make up a sizable portion of their carbon footprint.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. Absolutely.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: If you think about how many times you see an Amazon truck on the road. In 2021, it was reported that they have 40,000 semi-trucks and 30,000 delivery vehicles plus a fleet of 70 planes. And that was last year. So I’m sure it has grown this year. But this pledge comes on the heels of a partnership that Amazon made in 2020 with Rivian to improve their vehicle fleet. And this summer they started rolling out electric delivery vehicles that Rivian has made, across, I think, seven cities in the United States. And then the goal is to have a hundred thousand of these electric delivery vehicles across the United States in the next year or so.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, really interesting. Really good stuff.
Lauren Kirkpatrick: So Amazon is making some moves here with their delivery fleet.
Shelly Kramer: That’s awesome. Well, that is it for this episode of Good Equals Progress. Thank you to my co-host Lauren Kirkpatrick for taking a dive into Amazon news coming out of Climate Week 2022. Thank you to our viewing and listening audience. This is a relatively new show, so if you’re interested in all things ESG, sustainability, good works, climate change, all of the things that are happening as it relates to ESG initiatives, hit the subscribe button. We’d love to see you back here again, and we’ll be tackling way more interesting topics moving forward. So with that, thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you again next time.