Employees, investors force companies to act on climate change

Amazon employees plan to walk out in protest

By Charles Riley, CNN Business
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Campaigners protest during a climate change action day on September 20, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Protests are taking place today worldwide, with campaigners demanding that governments and corporations…

(CNN) - Nearly 1,000 Amazon employees will walk out in protest Friday at what they say is their company's inaction on climate change, despite CEO Jeff Bezos' new plan to make Amazon carbon neutral by 2040.

The "Amazon Employees for Climate Justice" collective said in a statement Thursday that while the company's "Climate Pledge" is a win — it's not enough.

"The Paris Agreement, by itself, won't get us to a livable world," the employee group said. "Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we'll be in the streets to continue the fight for a livable future."

The goal: The group wants Amazon to "commit to zero emissions by 2030 and pilot electric vehicles first in communities most impacted by pollution."

It posted a letter online last week declaring that Amazon should lead on the issue because it's "one of the largest and most powerful companies in the world."

More action: The Global Climate Strike begins on Friday, kicking off a week-long event that encourages employees to walk out from their workplaces to raise awareness.

Companies backing the strikes include Patagonia, Burton, Etsy, Imgur, Kickstarter and The North Face.

It's not just employees that are worried about climate change. Investors are, too.

Investors managing assets worth $35 trillion this week urged companies and governments to act with the "utmost urgency" to combat climate change.

"Much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society and the financial system to climate risks," they said in a statement.

Signatories to the statement include some of the world's biggest pensions funds and asset managers, including the California Public Employees' Retirement System, UBS Asset Management, Allianz Global Investors and Nomura Asset Management.

 

Stripe scores a huge valuation

 

Get used to hearing about Stripe. The fintech startup has confirmed that it raised $250 million from some of the most prominent venture capital funds in Silicon Valley.

The valuation? A cool $35 billion. That lands Stripe ahead of Airbnb, SpaceX, Grab, DoorDash and Palantir Technologies. Among American startups, only JUUL Labs and WeWork have raised money at a higher valuation, according to CB Insights.

Stripe's technology helps internet companies execute card payments and other transactions. Its revenue is tied closely to e-commerce, making it an appealing bet for investors looking for broad exposure to the sector.

To IPO or not: The valuation has sparked plenty of chatter about a potential IPO. But Stripe may keep investors waiting for some time.

"We're very happy as a private company," co-founder John Collison told CNBC. "We're quite early in this opportunity."

 

More changes come to the Business Roundtable

 

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon has been named the incoming chairman of Business Roundtable, the prominent group of 192 chief executives representing corporate America's interests in Washington.

McMillon, a Walmart lifer who became chief executive in 2014, will serve a two-year term beginning in January. He will take over from JPMorgan CEO Jaime Dimon, who has led the group since 2017.

Why it matters: The appointment comes at an inflection point for both Business Roundtable and Walmart. Although each organization faces different pressures, they are both attempting to adjust to an era of sweeping technological, social and political change.

McMillon said "there will be extensive conversations about America's future and the role business plays in shaping it," nodding to the 2020 election. He committed to "keeping Business Roundtable CEOs at the forefront of constructive public policy debates."

Business Roundtable said last month that America's corporations are responsible for improving society by serving all stakeholders ethically, morally and fairly. That's a big departure for those who believe companies should only serve one master: shareholders.

 

Up next

 

There are no major corporate earnings or economic data releases on tap.

What is happening:

 

  • Apple's iPhone 11 goes on sale in select markets.
  • Nearly 50,000 GM workers are still on strike.

 

 

One more thing

 

India is slashing taxes on companies to try and rescue its struggling economy.

Profits made by Indian companies will now be taxed at a rate of 22%, down from 30%, as long as they don't apply for other incentives or exemptions. New manufacturing firms will get even bigger tax breaks.

The government announcement sent Indian stock markets surging, with the country's benchmark index, the Sensex, up more than 5% by Friday afternoon. India's currency, the rupee, also rose around 0.5% against the US dollar.

Why it matters: The tax cuts are the latest in a series of moves by the government to try and boost India's economic growth, which has been falling for more than a year and dropped to a six-year low of 5% in the quarter ended June.

Major industries like automobiles and consumer goods are struggling, and hundreds of thousands of workers have been laid off in recent months.

Big western companies have poured investment dollars into India, hoping to tap into what had been the world's fastest-growing major economy. Those plans could now be thrown off course by the slowdown.

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.