Amazon Employees Defy Company, Speak Out On Climate Change Policy

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Amazon employees have taken to Medium to speak out on apparent hypocrisy in the company's climate change-related policy, according to recent reports. The 363 named employees are quoted in the article citing concerns about several key areas. But the primary concern is with the company's association with gas and oil companies.

At the center of the controversy is Amazon's Climate Pledge. That policy sets a goal for Amazon that it will meet the standards and requirements of the Paris Agreement as much as 10 years early. More specifically, it indicates that the company plans to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2040. The company set to accomplish that via a plethora of goals from improving energy efficiency to utilizing renewable energy and reducing materials used.

While that's a tall order to fill and one that, the employees argue, can't be attained while Amazon continues to partner with companies such as BP and Shell to discover and extract fossil fuels.

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The underlying issue here is Amazon's external communication policy

The obvious issue at hand is the rate at which Amazon seems to be approaching its environmental goals to reduce its climate change impact. But the workers are also addressing an underlying issue that has more to do with its external communications policy.

Near the beginning of January of this year, Amazon reportedly threatened to fire two of its employees for speaking out on the same issue. Those are Maren Costa and Jamie Kowalski. The two employees, a user experience designer and a software development engineer, were the first to speak out.

Amazon responded to the initial call-out by claiming that employees are free to speak internally about those issues. It also claimed that the workers had violated a policy that "requires employees to seek prior approval to speak about Amazon in any public forum."

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That policy specifically holds true while those speaking out are identifying as an employee of Amazon. The post acts, in addition to protesting company climate policy decisions, as a show of solidarity. That's further attested by a video shared by the group to Twitter this week. The group says in that tweet that the employees are "scared" but won't be silenced by the HR policies.

Amazon isn't the only company facing employee backlash

Employee backlash over climate policy and lack of action is not exclusive to Amazon. In late 2019, more than 1,100 Google employees signed on to back demands similar to those now faced by Amazon. Namely, the employees wanted the search giant to cease entering into contracts with companies that extract fossil fuels.

Microsoft has faced its own issues on the same front as well. But the software giant has, as noted by several quotes in the Amazon-related post, gone carbon-negative.

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