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Shareholders Ask: Why Does Amazon Fund the Anti-Climate Lobby? Thumbnail

Shareholders Ask: Why Does Amazon Fund the Anti-Climate Lobby?

Newground filed a shareholder proposal that calls on Amazon.com Inc. (ticker: AMZN) to assess the misalignment between its lofty climate change goals and the money it spends supporting organizations which lobby against policies to reduce carbon emissions.  Despite Amazon's assertion that its lobbying and advocacy activities are “aligned with [Net Zero targets and] the Paris Agreement goals,” the company pays trade association dues and other membership fees to numerous organizations – such as the American Enterprise Institute and the California Chamber of Commerce – that consistently doubt the scientific consensus and oppose government policies to combat global warming.  The proposal calls on Amazon to investigate these misalignments and report to shareholders on its findings.  The proposal will be voted on at Amazon's upcoming 2024 annual shareholder meeting.  

The full text of the proposal appears below, and is also available in its original format as a downloadable PDF.

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Assess Misalignment Between Amazon’s Climate Goals and Its Lobbying Efforts

                   Amazon.com Inc. (“Amazon” or “Company”) pays trade association dues and other membership fees[1] to organizations that consistently doubt the scientific consensus on climate change.[2]

                   The Company asserts that its lobbying and advocacy activities are “aligned with [Net Zero targets and] the Paris Agreement goals”[3], noting that it “advocate[s] in support of public policy that [addresses] clean energy, sustainable transportation, and other decarbonizing solutions.”[4] However, in contrast, Amazon also admits that its “membership in certain organizations may... be viewed as indirectly funding positions that are inconsistent with [our] views on climate change and the Paris Agreement goals.”[5]

                   Without discussing the trade-offs, Amazon acknowledges misalignment between its policy positions and those of the third parties representing the Company, but broadly asserts that the benefits of such relationships – despite misalignments with core Company goals – outweigh the risk.[6] Amazon claims to discuss these misalignments with the third parties involved,[7] but provides insufficient detail for investors to evaluate whether these assertions make sense. Further, Amazon discloses sporadic and incomplete details on its direct climate lobbying activities.

                   While Amazon publicly notes several examples of positive direct lobbying (i.e., lobbying that aligns with the Paris Agreement’s goals), the Company has refused to disclose the policy positions, actions, assessment framework, or escalation considerations that would be necessary for investors to analyze and address the risk of misalignment in Amazon’s lobbying activities overall.

                   Lobbying alignment matters because dangerous gaps persist between national climate targets and the actions required to meet them – and corporate lobbying that stalls robust action and allows this implementation gap to rise represents a threat to market stability.  “As global temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions break records, the latest Emissions Gap Report... finds that current pledges under the Paris Agreement put the world on track for a 2.5-2.9°C temperature rise”.[8] [9]  Shareholders believe Amazon’s current business model would face significant jeopardy under such a scenario.

                   Corporate lobbying that is inconsistent with Paris Agreement goals poses escalating and systemic risk to companies and their investors. Shareholders need clear, credible information on whether Amazon’s direct and indirect lobbying is aligned with the Company’s stated climate targets – because evidence shows that some companies tout their climate efforts while allowing the organizations and initiatives they support to block genuine climate progress.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: Amazon shareholders request that the Board report publicly on its framework for identifying and addressing misalignment between Amazon’s lobbying and policy influence activities and positions, and its Net Zero (emissions) climate commitments (done at reasonable cost, omitting confidential or proprietary information). This report should cover activities done both directly and indirectly through trade associations, coalitions, alliances, and social welfare organizations (“Associations”), and reference the criteria used to assess alignment, the escalation strategies employed to address misalignment, and the circumstances under which escalation strategies are used (e.g., timeline, sequencing, and degree of influence over an Association).

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1 https://s2.q4cdn.com/299287126/files/doc downloads/2021/political engagement/2021-Political- Engagement-Statement.pdf; https://lobbymap.org/influencer/California-Chamber-of-Commerce-5bd0824487d9cdacdc577e0af93089ed


3, 4, 5, 6, 7 https://s2.q4cdn.com/299287126/files/doc_downloads/2022/Note-on-Alignment-with-Paris-Agreement.pdf


https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/press-release/nations-must-go-further-current-paris-pledges-or-face-global-warming; https://www.unep.org/resources/emissions-gap-report-2023

Note:  This material is intended for educational purposes only.  As with all our public writing, blog posts do not constitute tax or financial planning advice; likewise, they are neither an offer to sell nor solicitation to buy any investment or security.