SEATTLE, Washington: Joining the growing list of debt issuers tapping the market for green bonds, Amazon.com Inc issued its first sustainability bond on Monday, raising $1 billion to invest in renewable energy, clean transport, greener buildings and affordable housing.
Global green bond issuances reached a record high of $270 billion at the end of 2020 and could reach $450 billion this year, according to Climate Bonds Initiative.
The money raised through the sustainability bond is a small part of the total debt Amazon issued on Monday, at some $18.5 billion, which the company said forms part of a new Sustainable Bond Framework and will be spent on new and existing projects.
The projects include the acquisition of electric vehicles for transportation fleets, as well as e-bikes and other electric-powered alternative delivery vehicles. The framework also mentioned sustainable building projects, including using an all-electric heating and cooling system run on renewable energy in the company's new Arlington, Virginia, headquarters.
Amazon said it may also use these funds for private equity investments in clean transportation and zero carbon buildings.
Amazon has vowed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and to power all its operations with renewable energy by 2030, as well as increase opportunities for under-represented groups in its workforce.
The decision to raise money for social projects comes just as Amazon battles criticism for the treatment of its workers during the COVID-19 pandemic when its business boomed.
Amazon was under fire for illegally firing workers and pressuring staff not to form a union at one of its sites, as well as for poor health and safety practices during the early months of the pandemic.
Amazon has denied these allegations and said it supports employees' rights to criticize work conditions.