International Finance

Amazon sidesteps ‘Carbon Offset’ Jeff Bezos helped fund

In 2022, Verra declared that it was working with Amazon and its Abacus working group to develop the label

Amazon has become the first company to circumvent a global standard for carbon offset verification, which was created by a non-profit that was primarily funded by Jeff Bezos, the executive chair and founder of the American technology conglomerate.

Amazon supports creating a new standard that might help the cloud computing company and online retailer overcome a shortage of quality-labelled offset suppliers and reach its goal of having no net greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Opponents fear that the change may cause confusion in the market and compromise carbon offset standards.

Companies that are under pressure to reduce their carbon footprints can purchase credits from companies that are involved in carbon-absorbing projects, like reforestation. Due to the small number of projects that can substantiate the offsets’ positive climate impact, the market for them has remained small.

Amazon informed Reuters that it has finished developing Abacus, a system for confirming the calibre of carbon offsets obtained through agroforestry and reforestation. As an alternative to the standard created by the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM), the largest coalition of environmental and private sector organisations worldwide tasked with certifying carbon offsets, Amazon created its own using the carbon registry Verra. In 2022, Verra declared that it was working with Amazon and its Abacus working group to develop the label.

Jeff Bezos is one of the largest contributors to ICVCM, having contributed at least USD 11 million to the organisation and its sister organisation Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative since its founding in 2021 through his USD 10 billion Earth Fund, which he established to address climate change.

In an interview, Jamey Mulligan, Amazon’s head of carbon neutralisation, stated that while the company assessed and approved ICVCM’s work, it was looking for a more stringent standard.

“We want to ensure that every credit investment has a real, conservatively quantified and verified impact on emissions,” Mulligan said.

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