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Amazon cut emissions 3% in 2023, enabled by renewable energy purchases

The company’s emissions are up 34.5 percent since 2019.

Amazon Texas wind farm

As of December 2023, Amazon had more than 500 renewable energy projects announced across 27 countries, representing more than 28 gigawatts of carbon-free energy capacity, up from 401 projects in 2022 and 274 in 2021. Source: Amazon

Amazon reported a 3 percent year-over-year reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for 2023, including related to investments in more than 500 renewable energy projects globally. 

Even with those gains, however, its carbon footprint has risen 34.5 percent since the $575 billion e-commerce and cloud services provider made a net-zero commitment in 2019.

For 2023, Amazon disclosed 68,820,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, compared with 70,740,000 the previous year, according to the Amazon 2023 Sustainability Report published July 10. For Amazon’s baseline year in 2019, it reported 51,170,000 metric tons. The company has pledged to become net zero by 2040, as part of the Climate Pledge initiative it launched five years ago.

"Progress toward a net-zero carbon business will not be linear, and each year as our various businesses grow and evolve, we will produce different results," wrote CSO Kara Hurst in the report’s introductory note. "These results will be influenced by significant changes to our business, investments in growth, and meeting the needs of our customers."

Low-carbon construction drives Scope 3 reductions

LIke Google and Microsoft, Amazon cites the growth of artificial intelligence as a challenge to its climate goals and also holds it up as an enabler of efficiencies, such as for applications that balance the electric grid or monitor deforestation, that can aid climate goals.

The impact of this growth has shown up in Scope 3 increases for Google and MIcrosoft, as they build out new data centers. Unlike its rivals, Amazon managed to cut Scope 3 emissions, which represent 75 percent of its footprint, by 5 percent in 2023.

Several measures were instrumental in the reduction, including a big focus on lower-carbon construction methods for new facilities. Since 2019, though, Amazon’s Scope 3 emissions have risen 29.6 percent.

CarbonFreeEnergy

Source: 2023 Amazon Sustainability Report

Amazon meets 100% renewable goal 7 years early

Amazon’s status as the largest corporate investor in renewable energy helped reduce its Scope 2 emissions — those from purchased electricity — by 11 percent in 2023. That represents 4 percent of Amazon’s total footprint.

Amazon said it matches 100 percent of the electricity it consumes annually with the power purchased from more than 500 solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal and battery-storage projects, meeting its 2030 goal seven years early. 

The deals include innovative contracts such as Amazon’s deal to buy the capacity of a Talen nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, which has triggered an appeal from rival utilities to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and an arrangement with Umatilla Electric Cooperative in Oregon that lets Amazon have more control over the power used to run its data centers.  

Deliveries drive Scope 1 emission 7% higher

Amazon’s decision to shift away from third-party logistics providers to its own delivery network was a big factor behind a 7 percent increase in the company’s Scope 1 emissions for 2023, which include its footprint related to delivering packages. The impact of this category, which represents about 21 percent of Amazon’s total, has grown by at least 2.5 times since 2019.  

The company’s investments in electric vans and lower-emissions options for last-mile delivery continued in 2023. As of the end of the year, Amazon had deployed about 19,000 electric vans in Europe, India and the U.S. It’s goal is to have at least 100,000 electric vans on the road by 2030.

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