Amazon has unveiled a $2bn venture investment programme to support "visionary companies whose products and services will facilitate the transition to a zero carbon economy".
The tech giant said the programme would be initially supported by $2bn of funding and would consider supporting companies of all sizes and stages of development.
The move comes just days after Amazon announced the first three partners - Verizon, Reckitt Benckiser (RB) and Infosys - have joined The Climate Pledge group, committing alongside Amazon to delivering net zero emissions by 2040.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said the new fund would support the pledge by helping to catalyse a new wave of clean tech development.
"The Climate Pledge Fund will look to invest in the visionary entrepreneurs and innovators who are building products and services to help companies reduce their carbon impact and operate more sustainably," Bezos said in a statement.
"Companies from around the world of all sizes and stages will be considered, from pre-product startups to well-established enterprises. Each prospective investment will be judged on its potential to accelerate the path to zero carbon and help protect the planet for future generations."
The fund is expected to invest in multiple industries, including transportation and logistics, energy generation, storage and utilisation, manufacturing and materials, circular economy and food and agriculture.
Amazon also suggested that over time it will look to involve other Climate Pledge signatories in the venture investment program.
The dedicated fund will build on Amazon's previous investment in a number of clean tech ventures, including electric truck specialist Rivian, which is in the process of delivering thousands of new zero emission delivery vehicles to the tech giant.
"Amazon has demonstrated its leadership in adopting low carbon technologies at scale," said Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe. "Their investment in Rivian and subsequent order of 100,000 electric delivery vans will substantially shrink the carbon footprint of Amazon's package delivery network. We're excited about a future of decarbonised delivery services."
The formal launch of the fund comes alongside the release of Amazon's 2019 sustainability report, which highlighted a number of milestones against the company's sustainability targets.
Specifically, it said the firm is on track to source 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of its current 2030 target.
It also confirmed it has made two investments through its $100m Right Now Climate Fund in nature-based solutions and reforestation projects around the world, including a reforestation project in the Appalachians in the US and an urban greening initiative in Berlin, Germany.
And it published new data showing that since 2015, Amazon has reduced the weight of outbound packaging by 33 per cent and eliminated more than 880,000 tons of packaging material, the equivalent of 1.5 billion shipping boxes.
However, the report also highlighted the scale of the decarbonisation challenge Amazon faces as it continues to enjoy rapid global sales growth. The company said its emission reduction measures had resulted in an improvement in the carbon intensity of its operations in 2019, but it also acknowledged that overall emissions had risen 15 per cent last year.
"While Amazon's net sales increased 22 per cent in 2019 (excluding changes in foreign exchange rates), our total carbon footprint increased 15 per cent during the same period," the report stated. "While still early days, our 2019 carbon intensity metric is 122.8 grams of CO2e per GMS, down five per cent year over year from 128.9 grams of CO2e per dollar in 2018."
Amazon has notably stepped up its investment in green initiatives in recent years, following fierce criticism from environmental groups and some employees over its use of fossil fuel power to run its data centres, excessive packaging, wider environmental impacts, and a perceived failure to lobby hard enough in support of ambitious climate policies.
A version of this article first appeared on our sibling site BusinessGreen.com
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