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June 23, 2020 11:45 AM, EDT

Amazon’s Carbon Footprint Grows 15% Despite Green Pledges

A newly constructed Amazon fulfillment facility is seen in Dallas on May 20.A newly constructed Amazon fulfillment facility is seen in Dallas on May 20. (Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press)

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NEW YORK — Amazon said June 23 that its carbon footprint rose 15% last year, even as it launched initiatives to reduce its harm on the environment.

The online shopping giant said it emitted 51.17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, the equivalent of 13 coal burning power plants running for a year. That’s up from 2018, when it emitted 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Amazon disclosed its carbon footprint for the first time last year after employees pressured the company to do more to combat climate change.

Amazon said that while its carbon footprint grew, the amount of carbon it emitted for every dollar spent on the site fell 5% between 2018 and 2019.

The Seattle-based company also said it’s on track to have 100% of its energy use come from solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable energies by 2025, five years earlier than it had planned.

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But the increase in its carbon footprint shows how tricky it is for a rapidly growing company like Amazon to cut down on pollution. Amazon depends on fuel-guzzling planes and trucks to ship billions of items a year around the world. Emissions from fossil fuels rose 18% last year, Amazon said June 23.

Orders have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, and to keep up and deliver on time, Amazon said earlier this month that it leased 12 additional Boeing 767s, bringing its fleet of jets to more than 80.

Amazon also said it would start a $2 billion fund to invest in companies that make products and technology that help protect the Earth. Earlier this year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said he would spend $10 billion of his personal fortune to fund scientists, activists and nonprofits working to help fight climate change.

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