What is the Climate Pledge?

By | 3 minute read | April 20, 2022

solar panels and sky

The Climate Pledge is a joint initiative between Amazon, a major platform for e-commerce and IT services, and Global Optimism, a climate advisory organization that was founded by Christina Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, two architects of the historic Paris Agreement, in 2015.

The Climate Pledge platform is designed to bring the world’s largest companies together on one platform to work towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.

In practice, this translates to a community of organizations that share knowledge, ideas and best practices to reach net-zero carbon emissions, rather than operating in silos. Signatories are required to report emissions, implement decarbonization strategies and neutralize any remaining emissions. In addition, participating organizations have the opportunity to come together for learning sessions, briefings from top climate experts and work with the Climate Pledge’s trusted partners, such as Global Optimism and The Nature Conservancy.

Additionally, Amazon launched the Climate Pledge Fund with an initial $2 billion to invest in the development of technologies and services that reduce carbon emissions and facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

When was the Climate Pledge introduced?

The Climate Pledge was launched in 2019, on the back of Amazon reporting its carbon footprint for the first time, with emissions from its direct and indirect operations totaling 44.4 million metric tons.

The disclosure came on the back of pressure from Amazon employees, thousands of whom joined a worldwide climate strike that included employees from some of the world’s largest companies.

What are The Climate Pledge commitments?

Companies and organizations that agree to the Climate Pledge are required to:

  • Measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis.
  • Implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement through real business changes and innovations, including efficiency improvements, renewable energy, materials reductions and other carbon elimination strategies.
  • Take action to neutralize any remaining emissions with additional, quantifiable, real, permanent and socially beneficial offsets to achieve net-zero annual carbon emissions by 2040.

Which companies have signed? And which haven’t?

In early 2022, the Climate Pledge boasts more than 310 signatories. Some of the first corporations to join as signatories included MicrosoftVerizon and Mercedes-Benz.

Fellow retailer Best Buy was another early adopter, while UK giants ASOS and Selfridges both came on board in 2021.

Within the transport gig economy, rideshare companies Uber and Lime have committed, while Danish firm Maersk became the first shipping firm to join the Climate Pledge in early 2022. From the aviation industry, North American airlines JetBlue and Alaska Airlines have both joined. And the mining sector is represented by Australian iron ore producer Fortescue and German company Gienanth Group GmbH.

How effective is the Climate Pledge, and what does it mean for the future of the planet?

The Climate Pledge is without question a step in the right direction, and the growth in the number of companies committing to the initiative over the last two years is significant. Clearly, however, a little over 300 companies across the entire global marketplace is not enough, and that growth needs to continue to increase to have any real impact by the 2040 target.

For those companies which have signed to the Climate Pledge, transparency around reporting emissions will be vital in meeting the targets. In the US for example, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced in March 2022 a climate disclosure rule proposal that would mandate emissions disclosures for large companies. Amazon was part of a group of tech companies which in 2021 called on the SEC to require companies to make regular disclosures around climate issues.

What’s important is that there is a formal commitment in place, and if the Climate Pledge can collectively drive change among some of the world’s largest companies and genuinely achieve net zero by 2040, the benefits for all of us will be significant.