Amazon signs corporate climate pledge to meet Paris agreement

WASHINGTON -- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced a corporate climate pledge to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years early.

Bezos said Thursday his company is the first signer of the pledge.

Earth is the "best planet in the solar system ... and we need to take care of it," he said.

"We’ve been in the middle of the herd on this issue, and we want to move to the forefront," Bezos acknowledged.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Climate Pledge calls on businesses to measure and report greenhouse emissions, implement decarbonization strategies and offset their carbon emissions, according to Bezos.

President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement in 2017.

The announcement comes one day before nearly 1,550 Amazon employees said they planned to walk out of the Seattle headquarters to protest the company's climate policies.

"As employees at one of the largest and most powerful companies in the world, our role in facing the climate crisis is to ensure our company is leading on climate, not following," Amazon Employees for Climate Justice wrote in a Medium post. "We have to take responsibility for the impact that our business has on the planet and on people."

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Bezos said he was not trying to make any statement against the Trump administration by making the announcement in Washington, but did say Amazon would lobby on specific climate legislation. He declined to take a position on the Green New Deal resolution introduced in the U.S. House.

"If we can do this, anyone can do this," Bezos said, acknowledging it will be "challenging."

He also said he would not stop working with oil and gas companies, as some of his employees have pushed for.

“No," he said when asked if he would boycott oil companies. "We’re going to work hard for energy companies” as they transition to more climate-friendly fuel sources.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Bezos also announced Amazon has ordered 100,000 new electric delivery vans built by Rivian which he said will hit the road by 2024. The first of the vehicles could begin deliveries by 2021, he said.

He said he would push other big companies to sign the Climate Pledge.

"I hope that the major players will take it up quickly ... because the need for speed is very great," Bezos said.

For the first time, Amazon released a measurement of its carbon footprint, saying its 2018 operations produced 44.4 million metric tons of CO2.

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It says it has a goal of using 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.