Founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, announced on Feb. 2 that he’d be stepping down as CEO of Amazon later this year to become its executive chair. Bezos explains his decision to focus his energy on his projects in a letter to his employees, including his $10 billion pledge to fight climate change through the Bezos Earth Fund.
The Bezos Earth Fund, first launched last February, will be used to combat the effects of climate change by providing grants to fund scientists, activists, and other nongovernmental organizations in an attempt to “amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change.”
In November, Bezos announced in an Instagram post the first 16 recipients of the Earth Fund, committing to “protect Earth’s future.”
The initial recipients will receive $791 million from Bezos’s donation of $10 billion, accounting for only 7% of the allotted fund.
Four of the most established environmental groups in the country — the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the World Wildlife Fund, will be receiving $100 million from Bezos’s fund.
Most grantees are being awarded money for specific projects, while others have been allowed to re-grant money to other nonprofits. “[World Resource Institute (WRI)] is pleased to announce that it has been selected to receive a grant from the Bezos Earth Fund for two major initiatives in support of global climate action,” says the company in a news release.
The WRI announced on Mar. 9, its President and CEO, Dr. Andrew Steer, will be stepping down to become President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. In a series of tweets, Steer offered up a few more details about the Earth fund, including that Bezos’s “goal is to spend it down between now and 2030.” This means that the Earth Fund will award about $1 billion a year for the next decade.
The WRI ($100 million), a global sustainability-research organization, will develop a satellite-based system that monitors carbon emissions and captures changes in the world’s wildlife.
The Bezos Earth Fund has also awarded $151 million, so far, to groups that are dedicated to environmental justice. Those include; The Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund ($43 million), Dream Corps Green For All ($10 million), The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice ($43 million), NDN Collective ($12 million), and The Solutions Project ($43 million).
The rest of the grantees are ClimateWorks Foundation ($50 million), Eden Reforestation Projects ($5 million), Energy Foundation ($30 million), Rocky Mountain Institute ($10 million), Salk Institute for Biological Studies ($30 million), and Union of Concerned Scientists ($15 million).
Bezos’s Earth Fund comes after ‘ongoing concerns’ about Amazon’s environmental policies. Amazon has long faced pressures from within the company and others to address concerns surrounding its contribution to global carbon emission.
In Sep. 2019, the company signed a climate pledge amid employee activism, asking for more comprehensive environmental policies. Amazon committed to being carbon neutral by 2030, 10 years earlier than the deadline set by the Paris Climate Accord. Amazon plans to operate with 100% renewable energy by 2025. The company will also invest $2 billion in technologies that will reduce carbon emissions.
Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of workers concerned with Amazon’s business within the oil and gas industry, praised Bezos Earth Fund and Amazon’s climate pledge- but said there’s still more to do in addressing the climate crisis.
“We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away,” the activist group said in a statement on Feb. 17. “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?”