Is The Tech Sector Going On Climate Strike?
The Global Climate Strike is coming back; this time, with adults.
Six months ago an estimated 1.5 million school children around the world went on strike, walking out of schools and onto the streets to raise awareness of climate change. Another Climate Strike is in the offing for this Friday and employees from several major tech firms — including Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon— have pledged to join.
However, compared to previous tech-sector walkouts, the numbers are miniscule.
At the time of writing, just 300 Google employees have signed-up for a “local climate strike” on September 20. Compare that to the 20,000 staffers who walked out of 50 Google offices last November in protest of sexual harassment. Meanwhile Twitter accounts that claim to represent strikers at Microsoft and Facebook haven’t provided numbers for strike participants nor, indeed, have they provided motivations for striking.
It’s Amazon employees, acting under the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ), that are leading the charge here. Over 1,000 staff, mostly at Amazon’s corporate headquarters in Seattle, have signed-up to skip work on Friday. It will be the first walkout at HQ in Amazon’s 25-year history.
The AECJ has demands, too. In a blog post promoting Friday’s strike, the AECJ calls on Amazon to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, to stop customizing Amazon Web Service contracts that help fossil fuel companies accelerate gas and oil extractions, and to stop funding climate change-denying lobbyists, like the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Those are largely the same demands the AECJ set out in April when it sent an open letter —signed by over 8,000 employees — to CEO Jeff Bezos, requesting shareholders to incorporate those demands into a resolution. The shareholders declined.
I predict a walkout of 1,000 or so of Amazon’s 40,000-plus Seattle employees will go largely ignored, too.
But don’t misinterpret my skepticism for contempt of the employee movement: it’s good employees want to pressure employers to tackle climate change — especially at Amazon, which is lagging far behind on basic sustainability goals when compared to other leading internet companies. However, with such low participation, Friday’s tech-sector Climate Strike won’t be as notable as headlines suggest.
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