Jeff Bezos pledges $10B of personal fortune to fight climate change

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will be awarding grants to scientists, activists, and nonprofits working to solve problems around global climate change. He is also pledging to eliminate his tech giant's carbon footprint by 2040.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos holds a press conference on Sept. 19, 2019 to announce the tech company's goal of meeting the Paris Agreement 10 years early. On Feb. 17, 2020, Mr. Bezos said that he plans to spend $10 billion of his own fortune to help fight climate change.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said Monday that he plans to spend $10 billion of his own fortune to help fight climate change.

Mr. Bezos, the world's richest person, said in an Instagram post that he'll start giving grants this summer to scientists, activists, and nonprofits working to protect Earth.

"I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change," Mr. Bezos said in the post.

Last year, Mr. Bezos pledged to make online retailer Amazon net carbon neutral by 2040 – the first major corporation to announce such a goal – and to buy 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from U.S. vehicle design and manufacturing startup Rivian Automotive LLC. Mr. Bezos also said at the time that Amazon would meet the goals of the Paris climate accord 10 years ahead of the accord's schedule and invest $100 million to restore forests and wetlands, Reuters reported.

Cutting emissions will be challenging for Amazon. The e-commerce company delivers 10 billion items a year, has a massive transportation and data center footprint, and has faced criticism from within its own workforce. The online retailer relies on fossil fuels to power planes, trucks, and vans in order to ship billions of items all around the world. Last year, Amazon officials said the company would work to have 100% of its energy use come from solar panels and other renewable energy by 2030. 

Amazon workers in its Seattle headquarters have been vocal in criticizing some of the company's practices, pushing it to do more to combat climate change.

Amazon workers were among hundreds of employees of big technology companies to join climate-change marches in San Francisco and Seattle late last year, saying their employers had been too slow to tackle global warming and needed to take more drastic action, Reuters reported.

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, an activist workers group, welcomed the Bezos Earth Fund announcement, but said it did not make up for the company's consumption of fossil fuels and other activities that contribute to climate change, according to Reuters.

"We applaud Jeff Bezos' philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away," the group said on Twitter.

Mr. Bezos said in the post Monday that he will call his new initiative the Bezos Earth Fund. An Amazon spokesman confirmed that Mr. Bezos will be using his own money for the fund.

Mr. Bezos is among a growing list of billionaires to dedicate substantial funds to battling the impact of global warming. Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, and hedge fund manager Tom Steyer have also contributed significant amounts to environmental causes. 

Despite being among the richest people in the world, Mr. Bezos only recently became active in donating money to causes. In 2018, Mr. Bezos started another fund, committing $2 billion of his own money to open preschools in low-income neighborhoods and give money to nonprofits that help homeless families.

Mr. Bezos, who founded Amazon 25 years ago, has a stake in the company that is worth more than $100 billion.

This story was reported by The Associated Press. Additional material from Reuters was included in this report. 

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