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Amazon carbon footprint increased by 18% over the past year

Amazon has announced that its carbon footprint has increased by 18% over the past year, reaching approximately 71.54 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). For reference, this roughly matches the numbers from countries like Austria and Bangladesh, and is a fair bit more than the 47.50 million tons of CO2 produced by the US government last year.

Amazon’s 2021 numbers also represent a pretty mammoth increase compared to its pre-pandemic performance, according to the company’s latest sustainability report ; up 40% since 2019, when carbon emissions hit 51.17 million tons, but before the pandemic propelled the e-commerce industry to new heights.

What is driving the rise? The increase was partly due to Amazon doubling the size of its fulfillment network in 2021 as well, e.g. through an expanded data center network.

Jeff Bezos promised in 2019 that Amazon would be completely carbon neutral by 2040 and urged other organizations to do the same. It’s important to note that the numbers don’t include emissions incurred in the manufacture of third-party products that Amazon sells, so this may not give a full picture of Amazon’s actual environmental costs. However, Its carbon intensity, the number of grams of CO emissions per dollar of gross merchandise sales (GMS), decreased by -1.9%. This could mean the tech giant ships products and runs its warehouses, data centers and offices more sustainably, but is unlikely to make a huge difference to overall carbon emissions if the business continues to expand. But Amazon isn’t the only big tech company producing massive amounts of CO2. Microsoft saw its carbon footprint increase by 21% to nearly 13.8 million tonnes last year, up from just 11.2 million tonnes of carbon in 2020.

Amazon reinvests some of its profits into sustainability, but the company invested in 100,000 electric vehicles from electric carmaker Rivian last year as part of efforts to decarbonize its fleet.

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