Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, has made the second largest charitable gift in recent history.
The Amazon founder is giving $10 billion USD to a new initiative that will fund programs to combat the effects of climate change, he said in an Instagram post on Monday (via The Verge). The Bezos Earth Fund comes after years of criticism that the billionaire was not doing enough charitable work with his extraordinary wealth, pressure that he has begun to cede to in recent years.
The billionaire tech boss announced the creation of the $10 billion “Bezos Earth Fund,” which will explore new ways to fight the “devastating impact of climate change” by funding the work of scientists, activists, and non-government organisations in the field.
“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.”
“We can save the Earth. It’s going to take a collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organisations, and individuals.”
Bezos’ new commitment to fight climate change comes after he made a “climate pledge” in 2019 that would lead to Amazon relying on only renewable energy by 2030 and being carbon neutral by 2040. Amazon committed to buying 100,000 electric delivery vehicles as part of the pledge.
Another part is making Amazon’s second headquarters in Arlington LEED-certified, a designation that indicates how sustainable a structure is. The developers of Amazon’s first ground-up office buildings in Pentagon City have said that they will achieve LEED Platinum, which is the highest echelon within the rubric managed by the US Green Building Council.
Clearly, the impact of the funds will heavily depend on where, when and how he puts the money to work. Bezos said he’ll begin issuing grants this summer, but didn’t provide any additional details on the specific areas he intends to focus on.
Bezos is adopting a different approach from Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, the world’s second richest individual, on climate issues. In 2016, Gates created a $1 billion climate fund with other major investors dedicated to supporting startups already developing products that could address some of the hardest technical challenges in clean energy.
The creation of the Bezos Earth Fund comes as a growing number of major businesses unveil plans to curb or offset emissions, amid mounting pressures from investors, politicians and the public. Indeed, Amazon has faced growing criticism from its own employees, as well as outside activists, for not doing nearly enough so far to address the rising dangers of climate change.