Jeff Bezos contributed $10 billion to his new Earth Fund, which could help fight climate change in the future. (Image Credit: Pablo Martínez Monsiváis/AP)
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, may have just shifted the fight against climate change by pledging $10 billion of his wealth (7.7%) to start the new Bezos Earth Fund. With all the virus talk these days, perhaps he should have donated to fight pandemics instead?
The announcement was made in an Instagram post on Monday, February 17, 2020, which states that it will support “scientists, activists, NGOs—any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” The announcement didn’t delve any further into details, and there are still some uncertainties on how the money will be spent, but he expects to start sending out grants in the summer. Experts believe that the huge commitment could help the Earth in the fight against climate change.
“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,” Bezos wrote in the Instagram post. “We can save Earth. It’s going to take a collective effort from big companies, small companies, nation-states, global organizations and individuals.”
Ten billion dollars may not seem like much to some, but it’s actually a huge amount of money solely dedicated to climate change research and activism. It far exceeds the $4 billion investments made by 29 philanthropic organizations to fight climate change in 2018, which was one of the biggest pledges at the time. The CEO also joins the ranks of Bill Gates, who contributed over $45 billion through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The large sum made by Jeff Bezos might be difficult to spend on current organizations and researchers.
Additionally, investment banks and firms have invested hundreds of billions of dollars to help fight climate change. One of the largest ones was made by Goldman Sachs when they donated $750 billion last year. However, these bankers are starting to realize there aren’t enough projects to help fight climate change.
Jeff Bezos will also be deciding on which issues and projects will be prioritized over others. With that in mind, there are some uncertainties as to whether he will be battling the fossil fuel industry, which is one of Amazon’s important customers. In September 2019, when he announced Amazon’s new plan to reduce its carbon footprint, he stated the cloud computing division would still be working with oil and gas providers. In that same announcement, he also said that he would be getting his company carbon-neutral by 2040, 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030, and 100% renewable energy by 2030.
The Bezos Earth Fund could invest in climate change solutions that already exist today. Some of these include replacing millions of natural gas furnaces with energy-efficient pumps or plugging up hazardous gas leaks. If he were to invest the $10 billion on current technologies, he’d be able to scale them down, make them inexpensive, and make them available in a lot of areas.
If Bezos were to spend his contribution evenly in the span of 10 years, he would become the biggest climate philanthropist. The Hewlett Foundation is currently the biggest climate philanthropist that spends $120 million per year on climate projects. He could surpass that amount if he were to contribute $1 billion per year. He could also dedicate $400 million a year to new-energy R&D and spend the remaining $600 million on other projects.
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