Amazon CEO's Philanthropic Project Sets an Amazing Precedent

Jeff Bezos's huge commitment to help the earth can inspire all.

Feb 24, 2020

Today, many philanthropists are putting their money where their heart is. And their hearts are truly green. Green as in environmentalism.

Microsoft recently set an ambitious 10-year plan to go carbon neutral and the giant tech company's founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have already given over $27 billion to global causes that include environmentalism.  Other environmental philanthropists include Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Now Amazon's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is joining them.

Bezos, who is also the world's richest man, announced on February 17 that he is committing $10 Billion to help address the climate crisis though a new initiative called the Bezos Earth Fund according to The New York Times. He said that the fund will begin issuing grants in the summer of 2020. 

In his Instagram account, Bezos said that the initiative will fund NGOs, scientists and climate activists. He wrote: “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.”

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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.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ - Jeff

A post shared by Jeff Bezos (@jeffbezos) on

In September 2019, Bezos cofounded the Climate Pledge – calls on signers to be net-zero by 2040 – and said that Amazon will meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accords 10-years early by achieving net zero carbon by 2040, and using 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue—we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” Bezos said in the company's press release. “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon—which delivers more than 10 billion items a year—can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can."

Amazon also announced that the company ordered 100,000 fully electric vehicles from Rivian, a Michigan based company; the largest order ever.

Amazon also launched the Right Now Climate Fund, committing $100 million to restore and protect forests, wetlands, and peatlands around the world in a partnership with The Nature Conservancy at that time.

Amazon made the pledge after Amazon employees encouraged the company to become proactive in its climate change goals. They pushed Bezos to do better.

Amazon is a colossal company that has a global network for package delivery, so the company's environmental footprint is huge. The company just revealed how large it is in September 2019 and disclosed that it emitted 44.4 million metric tons of carbon in 2018. This makes the pledge for carbon neutrality and the Earth fund even more relevant.

While OpEds have said that not much detail has been given about the fund, what is known is that it will make donations and not investments, and that the fund will not be connected with the company. This is the largest donation ever made by an individual according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Solving Climate Change will take collective action from philanthropists, NGOs and governments. Bezos has taken a giant leap in the right direction and hopefully this will spur others to follow in his footsteps.

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Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.