Jeff Bezos (one of the world's richest men) announced on one of the world's largest social media platforms (Instagram) that he's creating a $10 billion fund to combat climate change.
In a post on Monday morning Bezos announced that the Bezos Earth Fund will finance "scientists, activists, NGOs -- any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world."
Bezos is already an investor in Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund whose mission is to finance the development of technologies that can mitigate climate change and reduce the use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions in industries, including energy generation, food production and manufacturing.
Questions about the new fund are being referred to Amazon, which doesn't have much to share. The money is from Bezos' personal wealth and is separate from the foundation that he'd established, according to a spokesperson for the company.
The personal commitment from Bezos to finance individuals and organizations working to "save Earth" is a departure from how Amazon views actions taken by its employees that advocate for the same goal.
THREAD/ Jeff Bezos and Amazon executives are threatening to fire a few members of our group after we spoke up about wanting our company to be a leader in the worldwide effort to avert climate catastrophe.https://t.co/L87gpclEyL
— Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@AMZNforClimate) January 2, 2020
The group responded to Bezos' announcement with a statement of its own. Writing:
As history has taught us, true visionaries stand up against entrenched systems, often at great cost to themselves. We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away. The people of Earth need to know: When is Amazon going to stop helping oil & gas companies ravage Earth with still more oil and gas wells? When is Amazon going to stop funding climate-denying think tanks like the Competitive Enterprise Institute and climate-delaying policy? When will Amazon take responsibility for the lungs of children near its warehouses by moving from diesel to all-electric trucking?
Late last year, Amazon committed to net zero carbon emissions from its operations by 2040 and that it would move to power its entire corporate infrastructure with 100% renewable energy by 2030. The commitment aligns the company with other big tech corporations like Alphabet (which announced it was buying 5.5 gigawatts of renewable power last year) and Microsoft, which laid out the most aggressive strategic response to climate change of any tech company earlier this year.
These initiatives from public technology companies and the world's wealthiest private citizens can only achieve so much without the support of the U.S. government, which under the administration has been reluctant to move forward with any significant efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. Indeed, the administration has loosened or tried to reverse 95 regulations related to the environment, including 44 related to air pollution and emissions and oil and gas extraction.
As Bezos says in his statement, solving climate change "is going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations and individuals."