By Desmond Butler and Steven Mufson
Amazon, Walmart, General Motors, and now FedEx.
There is a quickening rhythm of corporations with big carbon footprints pledging action to combat climate change. And their cascade of splashy announcements spans the worlds of retailing, technology and delivery services.
Yet even the prodigious voluntary steps by a portion of the corporate world so far lack the speed, scale or scientific know-how needed to move the thermometer of the warming planet in the right direction.
Just Wednesday, FedEx promised to be carbon-neutral by 2040, 10 years faster than the timeline laid out by the Paris climate accord. The company pledged an initial investment of $2 billion to start electrifying its massive fleet of more than 180,000 vehicles and $100 million for a new Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture.
The giant delivery company joins more than 50 other major corporations that also aim to be carbon-neutral by 2040 in an effort to curb climate change by tackling their own contributions to it. Some of the companies promising to meet that goal have signed on to an initiative called the Climate Pledge, co-founded by Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post.
Those companies include IBM, Microsoft, Unilever, Johnson Controls, Coca-Cola, Uber and Best Buy. Acciona, a Spanish energy and infrastructure company, went carbon-neutral in 2016.
Carbon neutrality means companies must rely entirely on renewable fuels or offset the burning of fossil fuels with the capture and storage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
“You see some real live investment in carbon removal,” said University of Chicago economist Michael Greenstone, who served as chief economist for the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama administration. “But we’re in the top of the first inning on carbon removal, so we don’t know what that’s going to deliver yet.”
Meanwhile, pledges from the corporate world continue to roll in.