Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world's richest person, announced on Monday that he's pledging $10 billion to combat climate change calling it the “biggest threat to our planet.” In an Instagram post, the 56-year-old announced the Bezos Earth Fund, which will fund scientists, activists, and non-governmental organizations in researching and combating climate change.
The post reads:
"Today, I’m thrilled to announce I am launching the Bezos Earth Fund."
"Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. 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."
"This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world. We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals. "
"I’m committing $10 billion to start and will begin issuing grants this summer. Earth is the one thing we all have in common — let’s protect it, together."
Amazon has been making strides towards lowering the company's impact on the environment. It recently announced plans to install 50 rooftop solar systems on the corporation’s fulfillment centers around the world by 2020.
It also uses the heat generated by a local data center to provide hot water to their Seattle headquarters. Over the last two years, it's barely needed to use their boiler system, but it’s still active for excessively cold days.
Amazon has pledged to become completely carbon neutral by 2040 and will help Seattle reach the same goal by 2050.
But it's also faced criticism for continuing to work with fossil fuel companies and funding a think tank that has denied climate change.
Bezos was personally criticized after choosing to donate $690,000 for "needed provisions and services" amid the height of the Australia wildfires. Social media users were quick to point out that sum was a tiny amount of his total net worth.
In response to the news, a group called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice issued the following statement:
“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?”
In an email to BuzzFeed News, Amazon praised Bezos' decision:
“Amazon took a bold step when it announced the Climate Pledge, committing the company to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement ten years early, and we’re incredibly excited about the Bezos Earth Fund. Jeff’s passion and this extraordinary personal contribution to the fight against climate change are going to have a huge impact.”