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Walmart and Amazon Unveil Latest Climate Action

Retail’s two biggest names are doubling down on their climate change commitments as the industry scrambles to develop solutions that can reduce and ultimately eliminate carbon emissions worldwide.

Walmart has officially set the goal to reach zero emissions across its global operations by 2040. In conjunction, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are also committing to help protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030.

And Amazon announced the first recipients of investments from The Climate Pledge Fund, a dedicated $2 billion venture investment program designed to facilitate a transition to a zero-carbon economy based on the Climate Pledge, which Amazon co-founded with Global Optimism last year. Overall, the pledge aims at reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2040, a full 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement’s goal date.

The sustainable technologies and services selected include CarbonCure Technologies, Pachama, Redwood Materials, Rivian, and Turntide Technologies.

CarbonCure Technologies has a portfolio of carbon removal technologies that consume carbon dioxide in concrete during production, enabling the reduction of cement content in mixes without impacting concrete performance. Pachama’s technology is designed to verify the impact of carbon capture in the world’s forests, allowing organizations and individuals to compensate their emissions with confidence by supporting reforestation and forest conservation projects.

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Redwood Materials will help Amazon properly recycle Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries and reuse their components, as it has developed and commercialized a full process and suite of technologies for recycling end-of-life Lithium-ion batteries and e-waste into high value metals and chemicals.

In total, Amazon has purchased 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Climate Pledge Fund recipient Rivian, with plans to have all the vehicles on the road by 2030. Rivian is developing and integrating its connected electric platform with Amazon’s last mile delivery network.

And Turntide Technologies says its motors reduce energy use by 64 percent on average by optimizing efficiency and control without using expensive materials or rare-earth minerals. Amazon is piloting Turntide’s motors in a number of its buildings and says the results so far have demonstrated “significantly reduced” electricity usage.

The Climate Pledge Fund is investing in companies in multiple industries, including transportation and logistics, energy generation, storage and utilization, manufacturing and materials, circular economy, and food and agriculture. Over time, Amazon will also look for opportunities to involve other Climate Pledge signatories in this venture investment program and help them find solutions to help them reach net zero carbon by 2040.

“The Climate Pledge Fund is another important example of how the collaborative effort of The Climate Pledge can accelerate the transition to a net zero world. These investments will scale new technologies, helping these organizations speed up the pace at which operational emissions can be reduced,” said Christiana Figueres, founding partner of Global Optimism and the former climate change chief at the United Nations. “This is how a whole-economy approach to tackling the climate crisis looks. Together these companies demonstrate that there are endless possibilities in the clean, healthy recovery we must create together.”

Walmart plans to reach its zero-emissions goal without the use of carbon offsets, instead opting to harvest enough wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to power its facilities with 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. By 2040, the retail giant aims to electrify and zero out emissions from all of its fulfillment vehicles, including long-haul trucks, and transition to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and electrified equipment for heating in its stores, clubs and data and distribution centers.

Since 2015, Walmart has been a member of RE100, a global initiative bringing together the world’s most influential businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity. The retail giant is the opening ceremony sponsor for Climate Week NYC, a digital event taking place from Sept. 21-27, 2020.

Amazon already announced many of its commitments last year when it unveiled the Climate Pledge, committing to reach 80 percent renewable energy by 2024 and 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Presently, Walmart says it powers 29 percent of its operations with renewable energy and diverts approximately 80 percent of waste from landfills and incineration globally.

“We want to play an important role in transforming the world’s supply chains to be regenerative. We face a growing crisis of climate change and nature loss and we all need to take action with urgency,” Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart, said in a statement. “For 15 years, we have been partnering to do the work and continually raising our sustainability ambitions across climate action, nature, waste and people. The commitments we’re making today not only aim to decarbonize Walmart’s global operations, they also put us on the path to becoming a regenerative company—one that works to restore, renew and replenish in addition to preserving our planet, and encourages others to do the same.”

In April 2017, Walmart launched Project Gigaton, an initiative designed to eliminate one gigaton (one billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide from Walmart’s global value chain by 2030. To date, more than 2,300 suppliers from 50 countries are participating in Project Gigaton. Suppliers have reported a cumulative 230 million metric tons of avoided emissions since 2017—more than 20 percent of the overall goal—through energy, waste, packaging, agriculture, forests and product use and design.

Earlier this month, Walmart said it was collaborating with Schneider Electric to provide increased access to renewable energy for the retailer’s U.S.-based suppliers, enabling them to lead on climate action. The initiative, called the Gigaton PPA (GPPA) Program, is tasked with educating Walmart suppliers about renewable energy purchases and accelerating renewable energy adoption by participating suppliers through aggregate power purchase agreements (PPA).

The company recently announced two drone delivery tests, with the second one powered by Zipline being touted as system that eliminates carbon emissions and lines up “perfectly” with the company’s sustainability goals.

Similarly, Amazon has made recent delivery-related commitments to climate change in ordering more than 1,800 electric vehicles (EVs) from Mercedes-Benz Vans to its delivery fleet in Europe this year. Amazon and Mercedes-Benz share a commitment to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, with Mercedes-Benz also joining The Climate Pledge in August.

Additionally, the e-commerce giant plans to make all Amazon shipments net zero carbon through its Shipment Zero pledge, with 50 percent of all shipments delivering net zero carbon emissions by 2030. The company also is investing $100 million in reforestation projects and climate mitigation solutions as part of the Climate Pledge.