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Open Letter to Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services

cc: AWS Account manager

To Andy Jassy,

We are writing to you as AWS customers responding to the unfolding climate crisis and the recent announcement of Amazon’s Climate pledge to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030 [1].

We recognize that an essential part of our business is most likely run from AWS data centres predominantly powered by fossil fuels. As such we know we are contributing towards data centres’ growing emissions, which are currently responsible for about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it on par with the aviation industry and even projected to exceed it in 2020 [2] [3]. Unlike air travel, however, there are already proven scalable solutions to transition data centres to 100% renewable energy.

Amazon’s recent announcement is a welcome update since the original 2014 commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy for all global AWS infrastructure. [4] Fundamentally however, the 2030 deadline and goal still allows for the use of carbon offsets. This means that AWS customers will be waiting another decade to reach a baseline renewable goal that others in the tech industry, like Apple and Google have already achieved in the past few years, and Facebook intends to meet by 2020 [5] [6].

In order to minimise and ultimately eliminate fossil fuels in our digital supply chains, we need AWS’s ambitions to meet the speed and scale of the climate challenge ahead and give us critical services to understand CO2 emissions from available AWS infrastructure.

We are therefore asking AWS to commit to:

  1. All global AWS infrastructure to be 80% renewable by 2024 and 100% renewable by 2030 to be achieved without using carbon offsets

    A renewable goal for AWS data centres that solely uses locally-generated forms of renewable energy and therefore fully displaces dirty energy in that region, would be an industry first and more boldly deliver on Jeff Bezos’ sentiment of “moving to the forefront” of tackling climate change and not just following in others’ footsteps.

  2. Provide transparency of what energy mix is provided in all AWS regions through independent auditing

    Even customers who have already opted to use the 5 currently ‘sustainable’ data centre regions still have very limited information about the energy mix at these existing locations. Transparent and independently audited data that supports sustainable claims means we can be confident in on-going decisions on where to locate infrastructure and be able to truly advocate for our AWS partnership with stakeholders and shareholders.

  3. Provide a simple way to see our organisations' CO2 emissions from existing AWS services by April 2020

    For individual organisations like us trying to tackle this problem, we’ve found out that only a minority of AWS customers who are on Amazon’s concierge service are able to obtain information about their carbon footprint. Those who have been through this process with their AWS account manager also shared how difficult and protracted it can be.

    For any customer, of any size, it should be simple and easy to see our current infrastructure’s CO2 emissions. For example; a standard line item on every account showing offset CO2 emissions in the short term, an indicator of sustainable regions on the AWS console, or perhaps even supporting the development of open source tools like the Green Cost Explorer.

Scientists are recording worrying signs that the impacts of global warming are speeding up — from this year’s extreme European heatwave, the record ice melting at the poles and Amazon rainforest fires to disruptions in food supply and increase in unprecedented extreme weather events. [7] [8] The period since Amazon’s 2014 pledge has been the hottest five years ever recorded in global temperatures [9] and the impacts of a warming world on millions of lives can now be seen daily.

We fully support Jeff Bezos’ statement that meeting zero carbon goals across industry is something that “…can only be done in collaboration with other large companies because we’re all part of each other’s supply chains”.

We, the undersigned AWS customers believe that achieving our organisation's mission and serving our customers should and can be done without powering our digital services in fossil fuel data centres. At this critical moment, we are asking AWS to step-up its initiatives and help customers meet our own zero-carbon ambitions.

Signed organizations

To add your organization’s name to the letter, please fill in this form.

Tech/Digital
  1. Talkdesk
  2. FundApps
  3. Intuitus Ltd
  4. Swrve
  5. Giant Swarm
  6. Provenance
  7. Money Dashboard
Finance
  1. OpenGamma
  2. Abundance
Other
  1. Dazey House Cleaning LLC
  2. Montfair Resort Farm

References

  1. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces new ‘Climate Pledge’ ahead of employee protests - Washington Post
  2. ‘Tsunami of data’ could consume one fifth of global electricity by 2025 - Guardian
  3. The planet needs a new internet - Gizmodo
  4. November 2014 - Commitment to 100% renewable energy for global AWS infrastructure - AWS
  5. Environmental Responsibility Report 2019 (Appendix C) - Apple
  6. Google 2019 Environmental Web Report - Google
  7. Climate change: Impacts 'accelerating' as leaders gather for UN talks - BBC News
  8. Faster pace of climate change is 'scary', former chief scientist says - BBC News
  9. July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth - CBS News

About


Technology professionals from many companies — such as Google, Facebook, Tumblr, Etsy, Github, SoundCloud, Lyft and many more — are coming together under the banner of ClimateAction.tech to find ways to accelerate solutions to climate change.

Working in tech, we naturally believe in the potential of design, engineering, innovation and technology. Our goal is incubate tech professionals and support the tech industry in combating climate change and advocating rapid transition to renewable energy.