Tech work­ers join Seat­tle cli­mate rally

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Business - By GENE JOHN­SON

SEAT­TLE — As they joined a mas­sive cli­mate march led by Seat­tle school stu­dents Wed­nes­day, hundreds of Amazon work­ers cel­e­brated the com­pany’s re­cent vow to cut its use of fos­sil fu­els but said there’s more work to do.

“We will not take our eyes off Amazon’s car­bon emissions,” soft­ware devel­oper We­ston Fri­b­ley told a crowd gath­ered out­side Amazon’s Spheres.

The tech work­ers’ rally Fri­day was part of global cli­mate protests. Amazon em­ploy­ees were joined by some work­ers from Google and other com­pa­nies.

Amazon, which ships more than 10 bil­lion items a year, an­nounced Thurs­day that it would cut its use of fos­sil fu­els. It said it had or­dered 100,000 elec­tric vans to de­liver pack­ages be­gin­ning in 2021, and that it plans to have 100% of its en­ergy use come from so­lar pan­els and other re­new­able en­ergy by 2030. That’s up from 40% to­day.

Amazon said it emit­ted 44.4 mil­lion met­ric tons of car­bon diox­ide last year, a num­ber that ap­proaches the pol­lu­tion rates of some small na­tions.

At the rally, work­ers booed when Fri­b­ley said the com­pany still caters Amazon Web Ser­vices prod­ucts to the oil and gas in­dus­try and still makes political con­tri­bu­tions to politi­cians who deny cli­mate change.

The em­ploy­ees held signs, in­clud­ing some made from re­cy­cled Amazon boxes, that read, “No AWS for Oil and Gas,” and “Amazon Let’s Lead: Zero Emissions by 2030!”

The work­ers gath­ered at the Spheres, a four-story struc­ture that looks like three con­nected glass orbs. Inside the spheres, Amazon work­ers are able to re­lax in a rain­for­est-like con­ser­va­tory.

Some ex­pressed con­fi­dence that Amazon, which has about 50,000 work­ers in Seat­tle, will meet its cli­mate prom­ises.

“If Amazon can­not achieve this, I don’t know which com­pany can,” said soft­ware devel­oper Vaib­hav De­sai.

The tech work­ers’ march merged with a march by thousands of stu­dents, fill­ing streets around City Hall. On Twit­ter, Coun­cilmem­ber Mike O’Brien called it the largest crowd he’d ever seen at the build­ing.

“This is one of the few times when peo­ple my age can ac­tu­ally make a dif­fer­ence, and adults will no­tice,” said Michael Ronks, a 17-year-old stu­dent at Garfield High School.

Stu­dents also protested else­where around the state, in­clud­ing at the Capi­tol in Olympia. Gov. Jay Inslee, who re­cently aban­doned his cli­mate-fo­cused pres­i­den­tial bid, ad­dressed a crowd in Spokane.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Amazon em­ploy­ees and sup­port­ers gather for a rally at the com­pany’s head­quar­ters dur­ing a cli­mate strike Fri­day, in Seat­tle. Across the globe, hundreds of thousands of peo­ple took the streets Fri­day to de­mand that lead­ers tackle cli­mate change in the run-up to a U.N. sum­mit. Many were children who skipped school to take part in the sec­ond “Global Cli­mate Strike,” fol­low­ing a sim­i­lar event in March that drew large crowds.

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