Amazon Staff in Trouble for Climate Activism

Amazon Staff in Trouble for Climate Activism

A group of Amazon workers, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, penned a letter in April 2019, signed by 8,700 employees, asking the massive e-commerce company to create a corporate-wide plan to fight climate change.

Following on from this, employees made comments to the press in October, criticizing Amazon for its impact on the environment. At least two of them, as per reporting, were then informed they had violated Amazon’s communications policy. As per The Verge, they were warned they could be fired for speaking to the press. 

One of the employees is Maren Costa, she has been a user experience principal designer with the company since 2002 and is a member of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice. Costa was interviewed by TechCrunch in June 2019 revealing she loved her job and was responsible for some of the user interface every Amazon customer sees when they are shopping.

In September, Amazon’s climate group organised a walkout in order to put pressure on the e-commerce giant to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. With just 24 hours to go before the walkout Amazon announced its climate pledge, promising to reach zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Though Amazon appeared to comply with pressure from its employee group for its own emissions it did disagree with another request from the internal climate activists. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice demanded Amazon Web Services should cease its services provision to fossil fuel companies.

Jeff Bezos responded, discussing the fossil fuel company’s own transition to greener operations. He said:

“We are going to work very hard to make sure that, as they transition, they have the best tools possible. To ask oil and energy companies to do this transition with bad tools is not a good idea.”

Jeff Bezos

Amazon designer Costa spoke with The Washington Post in October raising her concerns that Amazon continues to profit from businesses that “are directly contributing to climate catastrophe.”

Costa then received a letter and an email from an Amazon attorney warning her that breaking Amazon’s communications policy again could result in her being fired. She’s noted as commenting on climate change, saying she is worried about the future for her children. In January, Costa spoke for a press release, declaring:

“Now is a time when we need to have Communications policies that let us speak honestly about our company’s role in the climate crisis. This is not the time to shoot the messengers. This is not the time to silence those who are speaking out.”

Maren Costa

Costa is not the only loyal technology company employee speaking out on climate change. Employees of Google and Microsoft have also organised walkouts and made demands to their employers.

In November 2019, Google workers penned a new letter saying its renewable energy and carbon goals are not enough. Google too is being asked to stop supplying services to fossil fuel companies but also to stop any funding to politicians and lobbyists who prevent action on climate change.

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