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Amazon's sustainability policy maven

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May 30, 2024
a photo illustration of amazon sustainability officer amazon sustainability officer Ashleigh de la Torre surrounded by colorful rectangles

Photo Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios; Photo: Courtesy of Ashleigh de la Torre

Meet Ashleigh de la Torre, Amazon's D.C. sustainability policy maven.

Why she matters: She spearheads how the global tech giant approaches key climate policy issues in Washington.

  • Before joining the private sector, she worked for years with Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas.
  • Now she handles Amazon's approach to federal policies relevant to decarbonizing its sprawling shipping and logistics — an integral part of the company's net-zero goals.
  • She also loves musicals. Ask her about Sondheim and she'll gush.

Jael chatted with Ashleigh at The Ministry, a Latina-owned coffee shop she loves. Here's an abridged version of their conversation …

What's your view on how DC talks about sustainability?

I think it's become so much more of a part of every discussion. Sustainability is naturally and organically becoming table stakes in how companies are making decisions and how politicians are talking about issues, whereas before it was considered an ancillary issue.

Why?

The obvious answer is it is just a crisis, the climate change and sustainability issues that we have. And I don't see as many climate deniers as I used to. I don't know what to attribute that to other than for us, our customers are demanding it, our employees are demanding it, we're demanding it, and I think that's happening on the Hill and Main Street. It's no longer an issue people can ignore.

What is the issue in climate and sustainability policy you're focused on most?

Transportation decarb. How are we creating opportunities to drive prosperity and increase adoption for companies like Amazon.… Right now we're inventing and investing, we're paying green premiums … policies like low carbon fuel standards, sustainable aviation fuel. At the local level, allowing e-bikes for deliveries.

Do you think the direction of U.S. policy around transportation decarbonization will be stable in the short and long term?

I am a stubborn optimist, and I think, yes, we will continue to go in this direction. Companies regardless of potential change[s] in policies are making these investments and moving long-term.… That's not going to get unwound.

Candidly, might be all I really need.

That's all you need? I had all these things I wanted to talk about. Like the FAA bill!

The FAA bill?

Yeah, it's super-important for our priorities around the creation of sustainable aviation fuel.

There's provisions that would help airports make investments, driving airport decarb. And what's also important for us is drone provisions, because that would be a way we're helping to decarbonize; all-electric drones taking delivery trucks off the road. We're very hopeful [about] the FAA bill.

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