Sep 17, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Amazon defends working with oil companies to reach its zero-carbon goal

Karen Hayes
Kara Hurst in Seattle.

Partnering with oil and gas producers is necessary for Amazon and other companies to achieve their climate goals, the tech giant's chief of sustainability, Kara Hurst, said during an Axios virtual event on Thursday.

The big picture: Amazon aims to hit carbon neutrality in 2040, 10 years earlier than the Paris climate accord. The company plans to reach its goal in part by helping companies develop climate-friendly technologies through a $2 billion venture fund. The first recipients were announced on Thursday.

What she's saying: "Amazon, like every other company you just mentioned — Google, Microsoft, many tech companies — works across a wide variety of industries. And I believe it's absolutely necessary to work with those types of industries to create transformation," referring to oil companies.

  • Hurst said that Amazon is brainstorming with industry partners on "what type of technological transformation is going to be needed to deliver on something like the climate pledge, deliver decarbonization in the next 20 years."
  • "We can't leave any industry behind," she added. "I think that we'll continue to think about, what are the solutions we can drive through things like the fund, what are the decarbonizing technologies that we'll continue to invest in."

Context: Amazon employees and environmentalists have criticized the tech giant's deals with oil companies, particularly for cloud computing.

  • Google said in May that it would no longer develop new artificial intelligence tools to help oil and gas companies extract crude.
  • Microsoft and Amazon have previously said that working with the oil industry isn’t at odds with their climate commitments.
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