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Companies, Cities, and Carbon

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This is terrible journalism:While [donating $1 billion to protect forests] is certainly notable, Bezos’s commitment to protecting the environment serves as a stark reminder that much of his legacy and largely untaxed fortune was built by companies that have staggering carbon footprints. Amazon’s carbon emissions have grown every year since 2018, and last year alone, when global carbon emissions fell roughly 7 percent, Amazon’s carbon emissions grew 19 percent.Economic activity is (for the time being) carbon-intensive. Amazon constitutes a huge and (especially during the pandemic) growing portion of the US economy. There's nothing said here to suggest that Amazon is unusually inefficient (from an environmental perspective); the author is really just complaining that Amazon is a large and growing part of the economy. (Horrors! They even had the gall to keep the economy going during the pandemic, when other companies did the green thing and shut down, bless their empty coffers...)Obviously there are all kinds of climate policies that should've been passed long ago that would help to reduce the carbon intensity of the economy (carbon taxes, more investment in green energy & research, etc.). Our lack of those needed policies is the fault of politicians, voters, and the companies that lobbied against them. Blaming other companies that are simply involved in ordinary economic activity, by contrast, makes little sense.I think we all realize it'd be silly to blame, say, New York City for having a large carbon footprint. Sure, it contains a lot of people, and so inevitably has a large carbon footprint in absolute terms. But if NYC didn't exist those people would just live somewhere else -- and possibly somewhere much less carbon-efficient than a dense city can be. But isn't blaming ordinary large companies for their carbon footprints misguided in much the same way? No evidence tends to be offered to suggest that they're any worse proportionally than their. . .

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