Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice hold a press conference following Amazon's annual shareholder meeting. (Photo: Amazon Employees for Climate Justice)

World's Richest Man Jeff Bezos Hides Backstage as Amazon Workers Demand 'Bold, Rapid' Climate Action

"How will we tell our children that we knew we had such a small window to act decisively, but instead we helped Shell, BP, and others find and extract oil more quickly?"

Amazon CEO and world's richest man Jeff Bezos refused to emerge from backstage at his company's annual shareholder meeting in Seattle on Wednesday as a group of his employees demanded that the online retail giant use its immense power and resources to help confront the global climate crisis.

"Jeff remained off-stage, ignored the employees and would not speak to them. Jeff's inaction and lack of meaningful response underscore his dismissal of the climate crisis."
—Amazon Employees for Climate Justice

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ), with the support of over 7,000 Amazon workers, proposed a resolution demanding a "company-wide climate plan" to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Shareholders ultimately voted down the resolution, which was opposed by Amazon's board of directors.

"Jeff remained off-stage, ignored the employees, and would not speak to them," AECJ said in a statement following the shareholder meeting. "Jeff's inaction and lack of meaningful response underscore his dismissal of the climate crisis and spoke volumes about how Amazon's board continues to de-prioritize addressing Amazon's role in the climate emergency."

Emily Cunningham, an Amazon employee and AECJ member, called on Bezos to come on stage and listen to his employees' call for an ambitious climate plan after the resolution failed, but he did not do so.

David Zapolsky, Amazon's general counsel, told Cunningham, "Mr. Bezos will be out later, thank you."

In Bezos's absence, Cunningham proceeded to deliver an impassioned speech demanding "bold, rapid action" to avert "catastrophic warming."

"There's no issue more important to our customers or our world than the climate crisis, and we are falling far short," Cunningham said as dozens of Amazon employees rose in support of her message. "Jeff Bezos, can you see children playing who might have drowned? Towns thriving that might have burned? Species swimming that might have been lost, forever?"

"How will we tell our children that we knew we had such a small window to act decisively, to leave fossil fuels in the ground, but instead we helped Shell, BP, and others find and extract oil more quickly?" Cunningham asked. "We can avoid the worst of what's coming but we have to act. Now."

Cunningham also invoked Bezos's obsession with space travel and his aerospace company, Blue Origin, as she implored him to support the resolution.

"Our home, planet earth," said Cunningham, "not distant far off places in space, desperately needs bold leadership. We have the talent, the passion, the imagination. We have the skill, speed, and resources. Jeff, all we need is your leadership."

As Gizmodo reported—citing people in attendance—Bezos eventually appeared on stage for a question-and-answer session.

But when asked about steps Amazon is taking to achieve 100 percent renewable energy in all of its operations, the billionaire CEO offered a "boilerplate statement" and deferred the question to sustainability executive Kara Hurst, who declined to answer, according to Gizmodo.

During a press conference following the shareholder meeting, Rajit Iftikhar—software engineer at Amazon and son of Bangladeshi immigrants—said "it's unacceptable for one of the richest companies in the world to continue to take half-actions as the consequences of its emissions put so many lives of the global poor at risk."

"While to some, climate change is something we have to worry about in the future," said Iftikhar, "climate change is having disastrous effects in Bangladesh right now."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Rich Nations' Vaccine Pledge Includes Just 613 Million New Doses—Well Short of Promised 1 Billion

"A single factory could produce this number in a year if you waived patents."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Elephant in the Room' Is Senate Democrats Blocking Their Own Party's Agenda

"The argument that we need to make here," the New York Democrat said of bipartisanship's dead end, "is that it's worth going it alone if we can do more for working people in this country."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


On Climate and Covid-19 Emergencies, G7 Judged a 'Colossal Failure' for All the World to See

"Never in the history of the G7 has there been a bigger gap between their actions and the needs of the world. In the face of these challenges the G7 have chosen to cook the books on vaccines and continue to cook the planet."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


NYC Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams Rebuked for 'Dangerous' 400-Students-to-1-Teacher Theory

"Defunding schools to the point that we have a 400:1 student-to-teacher ratio so we can bankroll another huge expansion in an already-multibillion dollar police budget," said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, "is how you build a school-to-prison pipeline."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


Lack of Patent Waiver Would Add Over $70 Billion to Cost of Vaccinating World: Oxfam

Most of that money, said a spokesperson for the group, "will go directly into the pockets" of Big Pharma shareholders.

Jon Queally, staff writer ·