Is Amazon Really Evil? The New Amazon Offset Program Gives Us A Clue

October 19, 2021

The tech giant, Amazon, is one of the co-founders of the Climate Pledge, which commits the participating companies to reach carbon neutrality by 2040, a decade earlier than the Paris Agreement. Since then, the company has made several efforts toward this pledge. With their most recent being a partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) as part of a nature-based carbon removal project announced earlier in September.

The project is called the Agroforestry and Restoration Accelerator, which aims to support small farmers in the Amazon Rainforest to produce sustainable crops through regenerative agroforestry initiatives. For the first few years, the partnership will focus on helping 3,000 small farmers in the Pará state to reforest almost 50,000 acres of land (approximately the size of the entire city of Seattle) with cocoa, which will remove 10 million metric tons of Carbon Dioxide through the year 2050.

Later in the month, Amazon also announced a similar program in Italy. This will be done through the LEAF Coalition, which aims to raise funds to protect tropical rainforests and prevent carbon emissions. The Coalition is now getting ready to support its first beneficiary, the Parco Italia Urban Forestry program in Italy. The program aims to plant 22 million trees, one per city resident, in 14 metroplexes across Italy.

However, the tech company is not doing this as a philanthropic act. In fact, the company will be paid for all of this work with carbon credits. Carbon credits are earned for the amount of carbon offsetting an individual or business does. From a business perspective, the firm wants to completely offset the emissions from their own business activities and then have a surplus of credits to grow. Furthermore, it has been predicted that the carbon credit market will have a value of $200 billion by 2050, with more individuals and businesses looking to offset their footprints.

So the question is, is Amazon working on these initiatives to help the planet, or is this a way to quickly begin accumulating wealth in carbon credits as this market starts to grow? There is no doubt that the projects announced will make great strides in helping both the communities directly affected and the rest of the world. With no specific budget shared in this announcement, it does make me wonder if the company is explicitly avoiding sharing this information, knowing that it has been criticized for not doing enough in the past.

I think it’s truly amazing that more companies are taking initiatives such as this in the future; however, I do hope that the expectation stops being the bare minimum. For us to truly mitigate the climate crisis and begin healing our planet, companies must step fully in. With previous initiatives from Amazon (one of the most affluent firms in the world) missing the mark, I hope it begins to take this seriously rather than as just another business venture.

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Photo: Atharva Tulsi on Unsplash

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Iga is a freelance writer based in Colorado, but originally from Poland. She follows the vegan, sustainability and zero-waste movements while trying to live a practical lifestyle! When she’s not writing she likes to practice yoga, read, play with her dogs and just be outside in nature. You can find more of her work at her website www.igashmiga.com.

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