Long criticized for its carbon footprint and lack of efforts to shrink it, Amazon announced steps Thursday to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels. Founder Jeff Bezos said the company will meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement 10 years early, USA Today reports, and be carbon neutral by 2040. The announcement came one day before more than 1,500 Amazon employees plan to walk off the job in support of the Global Climate Strike, a worldwide protest, per the AP. "We've been in the middle of the herd on this issue, and we want to move to the forefront," Bezos said in Washington. Others find that assessment generous. Until now, for example, Amazon has been the only large retailer to refuse to reveal its carbon footprint to CDP, per the Washington Post, which Bezos owns. "It fails the test of accountability and transparency," a CDP leader said.
More than 8,000 employees signed an open letter to Bezos earlier this year demanding that Amazon cut its carbon emissions, quit using fossil fuels and take other steps to combat climate change. Bezos announced the size of Amazon's carbon footprint Thursday. "Its greenhouse gas emissions are about 85% of the emissions of Switzerland or Denmark," an expert said. The steps promised include buying 100,000 electric delivery vans and committing to get 100% of the company's energy from solar panels and other renewable sources by 2030—an increase from the current 40%. A former UN climate chief appeared with Bezos, saying the company will pressure its business partners to meet the same goals. (Read more climate change stories.)