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Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos speaks in September on the company's sustainability efforts in Washington, D.C., in September. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon is putting $10 million into restoring or conserving four million acres of forest as part of its 2019 pledge to become carbon-negative within the next 20 years, the company announced Tuesday.

Where it stands: Tech giants are poised to gain as life moves even more online with the coronavirus pandemic wearing on, and early signs suggest they’re not backing down much from their march — however slow and uneven — toward greener businesses.

Flashback: Microsoft made a biodiversity announcement last week, and its chief sustainability officer says the company is as committed as ever to its climate and environmental goals.

Driving the news: This $10 million is the first project from Amazon's $100 million Right Now Climate Fund, which is focused on removing CO2 from the atmosphere via land use. That fund is itself part of Amazon’s Climate Pledge, wherein the company pledged to reach net-zero carbon 2040.

By the numbers: Amazon said Tuesday’s announcement would in the next 11 years remove a net reduction of up to 18.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by restoring or conserving forests, which naturally soak up CO2.

  • That's equivalent to 46 billion miles driven by an average passenger vehicle, Amazon says.
  • Amazon itself emits nearly 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, so this is a drop in the bucket to the overall picture.

Yes, but: Ensuring the authenticity of these types of emission-reduction methods is tricky because it can be hard to prove the trees would have been cut down absent, in this case, Amazon’s support.

  • This is why companies often make these types of announcements: precisely because they're hard to quantify but nonetheless everyone loves trees (just as House Republicans).
  • An Amazon spokesperson said the company is quantifying its emission reductions through two carbon-standard organizations: the American Carbon Registry and Verified Carbon Standard.

The other side: Amazon, along with other tech companies, is facing criticism for continuing deals with oil and gas companies even while doubling down on aggressive climate-change goals.

  • Amazon in particular has faced criticism for firing employees who criticized its position on climate change, The Washington Post recently reported.

What we're watching: When we’ll find out more about the $10 billion (with a b!) fund Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced earlier this year to help support science and philanthropy on climate change. That's about all we (still) know about it to this day.

Go deeper

Updated Jul 29, 2020 - Technology

Tech's major powers face heat during House antitrust hearing

Screenshot: CSPAN

Wednesday's House antitrust hearing with the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple went down some politically fraught rabbit holes, but also saw tech's most powerful figures face sharper questions than they've seen before from Washington.

What's happening: Republicans slammed the companies for alleged anti-conservative bias, but Democrats largely narrowed their focus to possible competitive abuses, putting the CEOs on their back feet and producing some surprising admissions.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Jul 29, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Cheap oil shelves carbon capture project

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A Texas carbon capture project hailed as a key solution to climate change has been "mothballed" over low oil prices, E&E News reported on Tuesday evening. 

Our thought bubble: The news is unsurprising but nonetheless emblematic of the complex relationship between climate policies and oil prices, which collapsed along with oil demand in the wake of the pandemic.

Jul 30, 2020 - Technology

House throws kitchen sink at tech CEOs

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

House lawmakers aired an enormous array of grievances with the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple Wednesday, throwing everything in their arsenal at four of the most powerful men in the world for six hours.

Quick take: The antitrust hearing didn't nail a case that these companies are harmful monopolies. But the representatives succeeded in wringing some surprising admissions from the executives about how they wield their market power, providing ammunition for regulators now conducting investigations — and possibly a spur for Congress to strengthen antitrust law for the digital era.