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Despite the multinational tech giant’s corporate rule barring workers from speaking about business, hundreds of Amazon employees have publicly criticised the company’s huge failure to meet its “moral responsibility” in the climate crisis. This comes after multiple high-profile employee walkouts in protest of Amazon’s contracts with large oil and gas firms, which are at the crux of driving massive carbon emissions that are adding flames to global heating.
In defiance of corporate policy, more than 340 employees at the multinational tech firm Amazon has publicly criticised the company for failing to meet its “moral responsibility” in the climate emergency. Using the hashtag #AMZNSpeakOut, hundreds of workers condemned continued partnerships with fossil fuel companies and insufficient action on the climate crisis in public statements.
According to data compiled by the Climate Accountability Institute, 20 oil, gas and coal companies can be directly linked to over one third of all energy greenhouse gases in modern history, which points to the link between just a couple dozen firms and direct influence over the future of our planet. As scientists and experts across the globe have reiterated time and time again, all funding, contracts and lending to the fossil fuel industry across all sectors must stop now if we are to have a chance against the most urgent planetary issue of today.
Victoria Liang, a software development engineer at Amazon who participated in this public climate protest said: “Every person who shared a statement had to decide for themselves that whatever the consequences, they needed to stand up for what they felt was right. The climate crisis is just that urgent. We just couldn’t be silenced by these policies on issues of such moral weight.”
This wave of climate action is in direct opposition to the tech giant’s policy that bars employees from speaking about the company’s business without prior approval from management, a company regulation that was introduced after a number of Amazon workers participated in the global climate strikes in September 2019.
Amazon’s employees have, in recent years, become increasingly critical of the company’s contracts with large oil and gas companies and lack of sustainability commitments. Last year, more than 8,700 employees signed an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos demanding climate action. In January, three Amazon employees were threatened with termination for speaking publicly about climate change and other environmental issues, which further fuelled anger against the corporate policy and unwillingness to take climate concerns seriously.
In response to the latest round of public statements made by Amazon employees, a spokesman for the tech firm said that the external communication policy was not supposed to be directed at any group of employees, and that Amazon has already committed to reach net-zero carbon by 2040 and 100% renewable energy by 2030.
“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability…[Amazon] will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” the statement read.
Other companies in the tech sector have also seen an uptick in climate action, as more employees become concerned about the lack of response from corporations regarding the climate crisis. In response, some firms have launched a series of sustainability statements, in an apparent attempt to curb further unrest. Microsoft, for instance, announced that it would achieve “carbon negative” by the end of 2030 after employees took part in a global climate walkout.
Lead image courtesy of Sarah Tew / CNET.