Nature and the Environment

Bezos Announces ‘Earth Fund’

Jeff Bezos is founder and CEO of the American e-commerce giant Amazon.com.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has recently announced plans to create a project called the ‘Bezos Earth Fund,’ pledging $10 billion towards the fight against climate change. 

The money used for the fund comes from his own personal wealth, currently estimated at around $130 billion, making him the world’s richest person. Despite this, Bezos donated just $690,000 to the Australian wildfire recovery, which is less than what he made every five minutes in 2018.

Many called for Bezos to donate more money, as he was slammed across the international media for his insignificant contribution to helping solve the climate crisis.

This sparked a lot of backlash from the public, as the amount was not only insignificant in comparison to Bezos’ wealth, but was also smaller than the donations of the likes of Kylie Jenner, Metallica, and even one woman who managed to raise double this amount by selling pictures of herself nude. Many called for Bezos to donate more money, as he was slammed across the international media for his insignificant contribution to helping solve the climate crisis. 

Following this, in an Instagram post on the 17th of February 2020, Bezos announced his new fund, highlighting the importance of “collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organisations, and individuals,” in order to save the earth.

Grants will be issued this summer, funding scientists, activists, NGOs and any other “real possibility” of tackling climate change and protecting our world. At $10 billion (£7.7 billion), the pledge is estimated to be about 7% of Bezos’ current fortune.

But what can be done with all this money? University of Nottingham energy storage expert Seamus Garvey suggests that renewable energy should be the target of investment in order to make it cheaper and more widely used. This includes both wind and solar energy, a mix that would enable usage all year, providing an alternative to non-renewable fossil fuels.

Although these suggestions, and many others, will benefit from such a large donation, they require commitment. Commitment that some doubt Bezos has. 

Professor Elizabeth Robinson from the University of Reading also suggests the money can be used to fund cleaner energy, including directly using it to persuade the government to stop funding fossil fuels as an energy source – a huge contributor to global warming.

Lower income countries must also be considered here, as they often have higher levels of fossil fuel usage due to being less developed. Professor Robinson further suggests the money can be invested in the research and development of alternative forms of transport in order to combat the emissions created by cars and planes. Additionally, something should be put towards developing our agriculture, in order to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Although these suggestions, and many others, will benefit from such a large donation, they require commitment. Commitment that some doubt Bezos has. He has been accused of ‘greenwashing’, particularly as this has come after Amazon threatened to fire employees who spoke out about the company’s previous lack of contribution to the matter.

Such efforts are already massively improving the outlook on the world’s climate crisis, and many hope this will be the start of other large companies also taking responsibility for their own carbon footprint.

It is also likely to take a lot more than Bezos’ personal donation to offset the company’s own carbon footprint which last year was 44.4. metric tons – equivalent to that of a small country.

Amazon has stated that they are trying to develop more sustainable approaches, including the hope to have “50% of all shipments net zero [carbon] by 2030.” Whilst this is a step in the right direction, the treatment and pay of Bezos’ Amazon employees has been suggested by some to be next on his to-do-list, as well as the payment of his taxes.

Bezos’ fund has joined others like the National Lottery Climate Action Fund, and the Scottish Climate Challenge Fund, in the attempt to protect our planet. Such efforts are already massively improving the outlook on the world’s climate crisis, and many hope this will be the start of other large companies also taking responsibility for their own carbon footprint.

Abi Kara-Fernandes

Image courtesy of Daniel Oberhaus via Flickr. Image license found here.

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