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EXTINCTION REBELLION TARGETS AMAZON IN BLACK FRIDAY BLOCKADE

Amazon’s fulfilment centre at Dartford, Kent is being blocked by climate activists who are disrupting the company’s business on its busiest day of the year. The action is intended to draw attention to Amazon’s exploitation of its workers and environmentally destructive and wasteful business practices on Black Friday.

The group is blocking the entrances using bamboo structures, lock-ons, and banners with the words ‘AMAZON CRIME’ and ‘INFINITE GROWTH, FINITE PLANET’ on them. They intend to stay for at least 48 hours.

The blockade is part of an international action by Extinction Rebellion targeting dozens of Amazon fulfilment centres in the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands aimed at highlighting Amazon’s “crimes”. 

Rob Callender, 31 a yoga instructor from Uxbridge said
We need to make Amazon pay for the damage its doing to the environment, for the harm Jeff Bezos does trying to create and exploit a market for the mega-rich to get high on space tourism; and Amazon should pay for the terrible damage hyper-consumerism is doing to our planet, creating emissions, poisonous waste and burned out workers who are denied the right to unionise in most places. Black Friday is a dark day for the planet. The fact Bezos is so rich is all the proof we should need that he has used Amazon as a vehicle to exploit his way to the top, taking advantage of cheap labour, cheap financing, cheap resources, cheap oil, cheap tax havens and the impulse for convenience. Amazon must pay - the cost is our children's futures.”

Alistair, age 72 who is retired explained
“The scientists have told us in detail the consequences of climate change. Every day I wake knowing that governments and industry have agreed this is an emergency but are failing to act, ignoring the horrific consequences for my beautiful grandchildren and the millions of young people around the world. I cannot collude with this ecocide”

Extinction Rebellion says that Amazon, one of the world’s largest companies, is responsible for a long list of widely recognised “crimes” - from tax avoidance to the exploitation of workers, to rampant wastefulness and ecological destruction - while making its founder and largest shareholder Jeff Bezos one of the richest men on earth. The action aims to expose Amazon’s crimes and the wastefulness of Black Friday while holding it up as an example of a wider economic system designed to keep us hooked on buying things we don’t need, at a price the planet cannot afford. [1]

AMAZON’S CRIMES:

  1. The company said activities tied to its businesses emitted 60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year — more than a medium sized country and the equivalent of burning through 140 million barrels of oil. And they are growing by 19% every year, with Amazon's carbon footprint rising every year since 2018, when it first disclosed its carbon footprint after employees pressured it to do so.[2][3]

  2. Not only does Amazon's business emit more carbon emissions than a country the size of Denmark, but it is actively helping fossil fuel companies such as Shell, Exxon and BP to drill for more oil via its Amazon Web Services.[4]

  3. While scientists tell us that companies must rapidly decarbonise, Amazon continues to lobby the US Government to fight against climate legislation, while telling the public they are committed to green initiatives. They are committing the very definition of greenwash.[5]
  1. Amazon has a historic record of treating its workers “like robots”, with ambulances called out to UK warehouses 600 times in 2018, but the company has threatened to fire employees in the US for speaking out about its climate impact.[6][7]

  2. Amazon routinely destroys millions of items of unsold stock and returned items. Many of the products - including smart TVs and laptops - are often new and unused.[8] This wasteful practice epitomises the view that the natural world is expendable.

  3. Governments are subsidising the growth of this massive monopoly by allowing the e-commerce giant to legally report billions of pounds of sales in a tax haven, meaning they are stealing from the general public in order to grow. This helps Amazon to undercut more responsible businesses and is depriving governments of tax revenue that could be used to fund essential public services.[9]

This list is not exhaustive.

Amazon is fast becoming a global monopoly and already controls 15% of global online retail sales and 34% of the world’s cloud-computing capacity. By controlling these essential pieces of infrastructure, Amazon can privilege its own products and services and set the terms by which other companies have access to these markets. This is proving a disaster for small independent businesses and leading to an extraordinary concentration of wealth and power.[10]

These business practices have helped Amazon's founder and largest shareholder Jeff Bezos to become the world's richest man. According to Forbes, Bezos personal wealth amounts to $177bn.[11]

Amy Pritchard, age 36 a Care Worker from London said
"We pause to reflect on the social injustice of tax avoidance, of exploiting workers, the immoral pushing of unnecessary, relentless consumption, which the natural world bears the cost of.  We are creating an interruption to call out distracting greenwash and empty green promises in a climate and ecological emergency situation, and to create conversations about what has to change.”

Dr Alexander Penson, 38, Cancer Biologist from Croydon said
“Governments have been completely unwilling or unable to stop Amazon from exploiting workers, dodging taxes and acting like a monopoly. We’re here to fight for people over profit.”

Selma, age 21 a Student from Portsmouth explained
“I am taking action because business as usual is killing us. Every year millions of people are encouraged to go out and buy environmentally damaging items and abide by the system of capitalism. Amazon is one of the many corporations which are accelerating the climate crisis and causing huge amounts of waste and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as providing awful working conditions and contracts for their employees. Our actions and consumption in the global north is impacting the lives of the global majority who are disproportionately already.”

The Extinction Rebellion action coincides with a global day of action against Amazon in over 20 countries by the Make Amazon Pay Coalition which has issued a call to action asking workers and activists to participate in strikes, protests and actions to Make Amazon Pay [12]

Notes for Editors

[1]  Black Friday has a carbon emissions problem

[2] Amazon says carbon emissions rose 19% in 2020

[3] Amazon says its carbon footprint grew 19% last year

[4] Amazon's growing ties to oil industry irks some employees

[5] Apple and Disney among companies backing groups against US climate bill

[6]
Amazon Employees Describe Working for Jeff Bezos' Company During Peak

Amazon accused of treating UK warehouse staff like robots

[7] Amazon workers criticize company’s record on climate change

[8] Amazon warehouses trash millions of unsold products, media reports say

[9] Amazon shifts up to £8.2bn of UK revenues to Luxembourg, report finds

Amazon had sales income of €44bn in Europe in 2020 but paid no corporation tax

Do Amazon pay tax in the UK? Boris Johnson meets Bezos

[10]  Amazon global e-commerce market share 2019 l Statista

Amazon Doesn’t Just Want to Dominate the Market—It Wants to Become the Market

 Amazon’s ‘Total Surveillance’ Supermarkets Have Arrived – and Could Have Dangerous Consequences

[11] Forbes Billionaires 2021: The Richest People in the World

AMAZON.COM, INC. : Shareholders Board Members Managers and Company Profile | US0231351067

[12] Make Amazon Pay

Amazon Will Face Black Friday Strikes and Protests in 20 Countries

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Press resources

Extinction Rebellion (AKA XR) is a non-violent direct action protest group with the goal of preventing further mass extinction and damage to the climate. The group has three main demands.

1. Tell the truth - Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.

2. Act Now - Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

3. Go Beyond Politics - Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

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