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Is The Tech Sector Going On Climate Strike? — The Loop

September 17, 2019, 11:19 AM UTC
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The Global Climate Strike is coming back; this time, with adults.

Six months ago an estimated 1.5 million school children around the world went on strike, walking out of schools and onto the streets to raise awareness of climate change. Another Climate Strike is in the offing for this Friday and employees from several major tech firms — including Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon— have pledged to join.

However, compared to previous tech-sector walkouts, the numbers are miniscule.

At the time of writing, just 300 Google employees have signed-up for a “local climate strike” on September 20. Compare that to the 20,000 staffers who walked out of 50 Google offices last November in protest of sexual harassment. Meanwhile Twitter accounts that claim to represent strikers at Microsoft and Facebook haven’t provided numbers for strike participants nor, indeed, have they provided motivations for striking.

It’s Amazon employees, acting under the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ), that are leading the charge here. Over 1,000 staff, mostly at Amazon’s corporate headquarters in Seattle, have signed-up to skip work on Friday. It will be the first walkout at HQ in Amazon’s 25-year history.

The AECJ has demands, too. In a blog post promoting Friday’s strike, the AECJ calls on Amazon to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, to stop customizing Amazon Web Service contracts that help fossil fuel companies accelerate gas and oil extractions, and to stop funding climate change-denying lobbyists, like the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Those are largely the same demands the AECJ set out in April when it sent an open letter —signed by over 8,000 employees — to CEO Jeff Bezos, requesting shareholders to incorporate those demands into a resolution. The shareholders declined.

I predict a walkout of 1,000 or so of Amazon’s 40,000-plus Seattle employees will go largely ignored, too.

But don’t misinterpret my skepticism for contempt of the employee movement: it’s good employees want to pressure employers to tackle climate change — especially at Amazon, which is lagging far behind on basic sustainability goals when compared to other leading internet companies. However, with such low participation, Friday’s tech-sector Climate Strike won’t be as notable as headlines suggest.

Eamon Barrett

Carbon Copy

ROI is king. Investing $1.8 trillion in climate change adaptation strategies over the next ten years could yield a $7.1 trillion return. That’s the latest report from the Global Commission on Adaptation: an international think tank co-chaired by a supergroup of advocacy rock stars—Bill Gates, former U.N secretary Ban Ki-moon, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva. The five adaption strategies include investing in early warning systems, building more durable infrastructure and improving water management. Fast Company 

Sustainable signals. Over 80% of individual investors are interested in sustainable investing while 50% are actually acting and taking party in at least one sustainable investment. That’s the highest level recorded by Morgan Stanley’s biennial Sustainable Signals survey, up from around 70% in 2015. Interestingly, 64% of respondents said they expected lower financial gains from sustainable investments but 86% also agreed that good ESG practices can deliver greater long-term returns. Morgan Stanley

Burning bright. Despite its current wildfires, Indonesia was a rare bright spot in a report on the world’s efforts to cut deforestation rates in half by 2020, as per the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF). According to the NYDF, the speed of deforestation worldwide has surged 43% since 2014. In Indonesia, however, felling rates retracted 30% last year – led by good weather but, also, good policy. Widodo’s government is actively preserving forest and peatland, renewing a 2011 moratorium on development just last month. Eco-Business

Support grid. South Africa is mulling a proposal led by Cape Town think tank Meridian Economics to bail out the debt-struck state electric utility, Eskom Holdings, with an $11 billion green financing fund. The fund, backed by private funders and development finance institutions, would allocate capital to Eksom on the condition it closes coal power plants and invests more in renewables. A Meridian spokesperson said the deal would be the largest “global climate finance transaction” to date. Bloomberg

Muddying the waters Continuing its rollback of Obama-era environmental policies, the White House last week repealed a 2015 clean water act, which curtailed the seepage of chemicals into U.S. water supplies. However, some major agricultural unions support the repeal, saying the clean water act encroached on farmers’ property rights. New York Times

In The Loop

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Nestlé Says It Will Achieve ‘Net Zero’ Emissions. But What Does That Mean? Fortune

Data Dive

7 million displaced

In the first half of 2019, seven million people were displaced by extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the Bahamas earlier this month. As the New York Times explains, that number needs a little unpacking. While it’s the highest midyear figure recorded since 2003, when records began, it also includes people who, thanks to improved early warning systems, were evacuated ahead of impending natural disasters — such as the 3.4 million people in India and Bangladesh removed from harm’s way before Cyclone Fani struck in May. It’s a ray of hope that as climate change continues to intensify extreme weather events we can build better systems to mitigate disaster.


Weekly summaries of corporate sustainable goals.

In 2015 the Coca Cola Company set itself eight key sustainability goals to achieve in five years. According to its latest report (2018) the company has seen declining success in its target for 95% of direct suppliers to be compliant with Coca Cola’s human rights principles; is on track to meet a 25% reduction in the carbon footprint of the “drink in your hand”; has stagnated at 59% in its efforts to achieve 75% recycling of bottles and cans; and has exceeded its goal of investing 1% of operating income into local communities.


This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Eamon Barrett. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.