Environmental groups have accused Amazon chief Jeff Bezos of paying lip service to the climate crisis after he pledged to spend $10bn to combat global warming, to which his massive online empire has contributed millions of tonnes in carbon emissions.
Several groups also have labelled the multi-billionaire a hypocrite for contracting with oil and gas companies and allegedly threatening workers who engage in climate activism.
In a statement, Elizabeth Jardim with Greenpeace said the organisation welcomes the launch of the Bezos Earth Fund but said "it's hypocritical to announce that climate change is the biggest threat to our planet while at the same time boosting the fossil fuel industry", which benefits from the company's computing technologies.
Greenpeace said that the company can't consider itself a climate champion while also supporting the world's largest polluters.
Amazon also was slammed in a statement from a group of anonymous employees who claim they were threatened by the company for speaking out about its ties to the oil industry: "Why did Amazon threaten to fire employees who were sounding the alarm about Amazon's role in the climate crisis and our oil and gas business? What this shows is that employees speaking out works — we need more of that right now."
As employees, here is our statement to Jeff Bezos' Earth Fund announcement (as an image): pic.twitter.com/opgcCpa67D— Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@AMZNforClimate)February 17, 2020
Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said while it applauds Mr Bezos' philanthropy, "one hand cannot give what the other is taking away".
The company has regularly faced criticism and complaints about the resources required to run its massive cloud-computing servers, as well as the wasteful packaging and environmental cost to support its fast Prime shipping.
Mr Bezos, the world's richest man, valued at nearly $130bn, announced that his Earth Fund will "fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world".
"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", he said. "We can save Earth. It's going to take a collective effort from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals."
Climate journalist Emily Atkin compared his contribution to the average net worth of a person under age 35. "That's like if a normal young person donated $847", she said.
Whether you think this is a lot or not enough, I think it’s always important to contextualize billionaire giving in terms of what it would mean for the average person.
Bezos also holds far more responsibility for the climate crisis than you or I. Just something to think about.— Emily Atkin (@emorwee)February 18, 2020
The move follows growing pressure to follow other tech companies in disclosing its environmental footprint, which Mr Bezos agreed to do last year.
In 2018 alone, the company contributed more than 44 million tonnes of carbon emissions, exceeding the footprint of several European economies as well as other tech companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft and online retailers like Target.
The company pledged to move to 80 per cent renewable energy by 2024 and 100 per cent by 2030. It currently uses 40 per cent renewable energy. It will also roll out the use of 100,000 electric vehicles next year and rely on a solar "farm" at its HQ2 headquarters in Virginia.