Amazon Did Not Reach Its Goal of Fully Clean Electricity Seven Years Early

Ivan Penn and Eli Tan, New York Times:

Amazon announced on Wednesday that effectively all of the electricity its operations used last year came from sources that did not produce greenhouse gas emissions. But some experts have criticized the method the company uses to make that determination as being too lenient.


As a result, to achieve 100 percent clean energy — at least on paper — companies often buy what are known as renewable energy certificates, or RECs, from a solar or wind farm owner. By buying enough credits to match or exceed the energy its operations use, a company could make the claim that its business is powered entirely by clean energy.

“That’s what we do, buy RECs for projects that are not yet operational,” Ms. Hurst [Amazon’s vice president of worldwide sustainability] said.

Regardless of how legitimate these certificates are — and there are plenty of reasonable questions to be asked — it is dishonest for Amazon or anyone else to apply them to power consumed in a year in which it was not generated. This is greenwashing.