Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has announced a $10 billion commitment in support of efforts to address climate change, the New York Times reports.
In an Instagram post, Bezos announced that he was committing an initial $10 billion to the Bezos Earth Fund, which will begin to award grants this summer. "Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet," wrote Bezos, the world's richest man. "I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share. This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world. We can save Earth. It's going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals....Earth is the one thing we all have in common — let's protect it, together."
The fund, which is not connected to Amazon, will provide no-strings-attached awards rather than make investments that Bezos personally would expect to profit from, a person with knowledge of the plan told the Times. With a net worth of $130 billion, Bezos has faced criticism for being slow to ramp up his philanthropic giving. In 2018 he launched the $2 billion Bezos One Day Fund with his then-wife MacKenzie in support of services for homeless families and high-quality early childhood education in underserved communities, but he has not signed on to the Giving Pledge, as his ex-wife has done.
In September 2019 — after Amazon.com employees staged walkouts and publicly called on the company to take steps to zero out its carbon emissions by 2030, stop offering cloud-computing services to the oil and gas industry, and stop donating to the campaigns of politicians who deny climate change — the company pledged to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement ten years ahead of schedule and to be carbon neutral by 2040. The company also disclosed that in 2018 it emitted about 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — the equivalent of burning nearly six hundred thousand tanker trucks of gasoline. It continues to provide cloud-computing services to the fossil fuel industry.
Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said that although they applaud Bezos' philanthropy, "one hand cannot give what the other is taking away," adding, "[t]he people of Earth need to know: When is Amazon going to stop helping oil and gas companies ravage Earth with still more oil and gas wells? When is Amazon going to stop funding climate-denying think tanks like the Competitive Enterprise Institute and climate-delaying policy?"