Jul 27, 2019

Retail's climate cost is going up

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's faster, cheaper and easier to buy everything online than it was just 5 years ago, and consumers have more and more options. But there's a cost.

The big picture: The trends driving retail — speedy delivery, zero shipping fees and fast fashion — are harming the environment. And there's little incentive for big companies to consider their impact.

What's happening: Amazon made free 1-day delivery the new norm in the U.S., pushing its big competitors like Walmart and Target to speed up delivery and drive down fees, too.

  • Free and fast shipping are eliminating shoppers' motivation to bundle their orders. They're instead ordering a steady stream of packages to their doorsteps, pushing e-commerce and logistics companies to keep up by adding trucks, jets and even air hubs.
  • On top of that, the packaging materials that come with delivery boxes are exacerbating the global plastics crisis.
  • Stores like Forever 21, H&M and Uniqlo are selling cheap, lower-quality clothes that are easy to buy but often end up in landfills after a few washes. Clothing is the fastest growing category of waste in the world.

What to watch: Under pressure from activist employees and consumers, big retailers are setting goals to decrease their climate impact. Amazon aims to cut carbon emissions on shipments to net zero by 2030.

Read more about the impacts of climate change we're tracking:

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Climate change's crucial moment

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Scientists for decades have warned of the time when climate change would begin to change our daily lives. We're now entering that moment.

The big picture: The Fed, corporate executives, college students, retailers and politicians are all coming to grips with this seminal challenge. We as a species are now living with this problem like never before.

Go deeperArrowJul 27, 2019

TV news' climate change bias

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While newspapers are teaming up to double down on their climate change coverage, broadcasters are focusing on covering the byproducts of climate change — natural disasters and extreme weather.

Why it matters: Climate change tends to be a ratings killer for television, because it can be abstract and complicated to explain in short, visual bites. But as the economic and political debate around the topic increases, media experts will be looking at the ways television outlets cover the issue, as television is still the most common place for Americans to get their news.

Go deeperArrowJul 27, 2019

Pressure grows around U.N. climate-change summit

Young people and Big Oil executives will join world leaders in September for the most high-profile summit on climate change since the 2015 UN conference that led to the Paris Agreement.

Why it matters: The New York event is aimed at encouraging countries to increase their pledges to the Paris deal, in the face of rising global carbon emissions, falling investment in renewable energy and an American president who denies there’s a problem at all.

Go deeperArrowJul 27, 2019