Transport giants including Uber sign on to Amazon’s 2040 net-zero vision

Image: Uber

New signatories to the Pledge this week are electric vehicle (EV) scale-up Rivian, supersonic aircraft developers Boom and Spanish mobility-on-demand firm Cabify, as well as airline JetBlue and Uber.

Rivian is notably already working with Amazon. In June, Amazon pledged to invest at least $2bn (£1.6bn) in smaller firms creating technologies or services aimed at reducing carbon emissions to net-zero. Rivian benefitted from the fund and has since designed a bespoke delivery van for the e-commerce giant, to help it meet its pledge to get 100,000 Amazon EVs on the road by 2030.

By signing the Pledge, companies commit to developing Paris-aligned strategies for reducing emissions. To ensure that signatories to the Pledge are not overly reliant on carbon offsetting, the framework commits signatories to prioritise energy efficiency, renewable energy and creating a closed-loop for materials. Signatories must also measure and publicly report on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from all parts of the business on a regular basis.

All of the new signatories have previously published their own sustainability strategies with climate targets. JetBlue, for example, has been offsetting emissions for all domestic flights since July. It sees offsetting as a short term “bridge” as technologies including sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) scales up. In 2019, SAF accounted for around 0.1% of the fuel consumed by the airline industry.

Elsewhere, Cabify had already committed to electrifying its fleets in Spain and Latin America by 2025 and 2030 respectively. It is already offsetting 100% of emissions from rides and from its corporate operations. Similarly, Uber is working towards having 100% of rides taking place via zero-emission methods by 2040. It expects to reach this milestone in 2030 in cities in the US, Canada and Europe.

Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said the transportation sector will need to “play a critical role” in the global transition to net-zero. In many developed nations including the UK, it is the top emitter.

“By joining The Climate Pledge, signatories are not just making a statement of commitment to the future, they also are setting a pathway to significant actions and investments that will create jobs, spur innovation, regenerate the natural environment and help consumers to buy more sustainable products,” Christiana Figueres added. The UN’s former climate change chief is helping Amazon deliver the Climate Pledge through her new organisation, Global Optimism.

The Pledge so far

Amazon’s ‘Climate Pledge’ was launched in September 2019, after the e-commerce giant faced mounting pressure from consumers, investors and its own staff to firm up its environmental ambitions and actions in line with its scale.

To date, it has attracted the support of 18 other major businesses. German multinational FMCG giant Henkel, which owns brands including Persil and Schwarzkopf, signed up to the pledge last month.

Other signatories include Mercedes-BenzReckitt Benckiser, Verizon and Infosys , along with Best Buy and Siemens.

As of September, some 1,540 businesses globally had set net-zero targets of some kind, up from 500 in December 2019. That is according to research from Data-Driven EnviroLab and the NewClimate Institute.

But for all the welcome noise on climate leadership in the private sector, there are concerns about how many net-zero targets will be met. In a recent survey of energy managers at 104 organisations by Inspired Energy, almost nine in ten said that ‘net zero’ is in danger of becoming a meaningless statement unless there’s consistency in approach and measurement among businesses.

Sarah George

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