Amazon CEO and the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos pledges $10 billion to fight the climate crisis. He announced his Bezos Earth Fund of $10 billion “to start,” in an Instagram post on Monday. We can save Earth,” he said in a post on Instagram. “It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals.”
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” he wrote. “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.”
The fund will begin issuing grants this summer to scientists, activists and non-governmental organizations, working to save the environment.
Bezos has historically not opted to direct his wealth towards philanthropy, according to The New York Times. Among the world’s five wealthiest people, he is the only U.S. citizen who has not signed the Giving Pledge to donate more than 50 percent of his fortune during his lifetime or in his will, Business Insider reported. His ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, signed the pledge in May.
His $10 billion donation accounts for around 7.7 percent of his total net worth of $130 billion. At present, even if he gives away the whole amount, he would still be the richest man on Earth, The New York Times pointed out.
However, as an individual donor, his new fund is the third-largest charitable pledge, CNN reported. According to a ranking by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, after a $36 billion commitment by billionaire Warren Buffett in 2006 and an estimated $16.4 billion pledge by the late wife of Walmart (WMT) founder Sam Walton, Helen Walton, in 2007.
Bezos’ foray into philanthropy comes now about a year after the Amazon employees got involved in climate activism, pushing the company in a more earth-friendly direction. According to the figures of its own, released in September, Amazon emitted 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018, The New York Times reported.
“That would put them in the top 150 or 200 emitters in the world,” CDP North America President Bruno Sarda told The New York Times.
Bezos unveiled an Amazon-wide Climate Pledge also in September to be carbon neutral by 2040, 100% renewable energy by 2030, promising that the company would meet the goals of the Paris agreement ten years early and 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030. Just the day before 1,000 Amazon employees and more were set to participate in a day of global climate strikes, the promise was made, CNN reported.
In January, more than 350 employees signed a Medium blog calling for net-zero emissions by 2030, among other requests.
However, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) demanded that the company should go further and stop offering cloud computing services to the oil and gas industry. According to some, they were threatened with being fired for speaking out on the company’s climate policies.
In response to Bezos’ announcement, the group applauded his philanthropy; however, it questioned the business practices of Amazon.
The group particularly flagged the use of cloud computing for oil and gas exploration, the company’s donations to climate-denying think tanks like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and also the risks from air pollution caused by diesel trucks to the health of children living near Amazon warehouses and the threats of retaliation against employees for speaking out.
“As history has taught us, true visionaries stand up against entrenched systems, often at great cost to themselves,” the group wrote. “We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away.”
“Will Jeff Bezos show us true leadership or will he continue to be complicit in the acceleration of the climate crisis, while supposedly trying to help?” it added.