Amazon’s Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion to fighting climate change

He’s using his green to fight for green. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man as of 2019, announced via Instagram that he is “committing $10 billion to start” the Bezos Earth Fund — which will “explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change.”

Bezos is apparently looking to team up — Captain Planet style — with scientists, activists, and NGOs. According to Forbes, Bezos is worth a little more than $130 billion, so dedicating little less than 8% of his wealth isn’t exactly nothing, but he certainly won’t be hurting for cash.

Bezos originally came out with a “climate pledge” in September 2019, after pressure from an Amazon worker’s group that generated negative press for the company. At the time, he pledged to have 100% renewable infrastructure by 2030 and had ordered a fleet of “electric delivery vehicles” that are slated to hit the roads in 2021. But details beyond this were scarce. Without a real timeline or incremental commitments to measure, it would be hard to hold Amazon to account, activist Rebecca Deutsch told Digital Trends at the time.

After the announcement, the worker’s group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice released a statement saying they “applauded Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give while the other is taking away.” The statement questioned why Amazon was still enabling the mining of fossil fuels and anti-climate change think tanks.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in 1999
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, in 1999. Chris Carroll/Corbis via Getty Images

“The international scientific community is very clear: burning the oil in wells that oil companies already have developed means we can’t save our planet from climate catastrophe,” the statement reads. It then goes on to question the durability of his committment to fighting the problem: “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?”

These are also questions as to whether the amount Bezos has pledged will be enough to make a difference on a global scale. For example, earlier in February, Delta Air Lines pledged $1 billion to go carbon neutral in the next decade, but the actual cost of becoming carbon neutral will likely be higher than that.

Amazon is thought to be expanding its own fleet of airplanes as it expands its Prime shipping offerings, according to a staff attorney for Earthjustice who spoke with Digital Trends, especially in relation to a new airport terminal being built at the San Bernardino airport, which is rumored to be specifically for Amazon shipping. Amazon previously told Digital Trends in a statement that they are working to reduce their plane-based carbon emissions, but again did not provide any details.

A small group of local activists is working on fighting the construction of the so-called “Amazon terminal,” based on evidence that it would deeply impact the surrounding community with tons of toxic gas pumped into the atmosphere. The groups recently filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, alleging that a government report that said there would be no significant environmental impact was false, and called for a review.

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