Jeff Bezos, the billionaire CEO of Amazon, announced the Bezos Earth Fund to help combat climate change. He’s pledging $10 billion of his own money to fund scientists and activists, among others, and will start handing out grants this summer.
In an Instagram post, Bezos explained why he decided to create the $10 billion 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,” he wrote.
“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.”
However, not everyone is impressed by Bezos’ philanthropic gesture. The group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice issued a rebuttal, calling out Bezos for being a hypocrite:
“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?”
The group also accused Amazon of firing employees who dared to speak out about these issues. They conclude their incendiary statement by asking:
“Will Jeff Bezos show us true leadership or will he continue to be complicit in the acceleration of the climate crisis, while supposedly trying to help?”
Bezos has long been a controversial figure, from his business practices to his personal life. While the Earth Fund seems like a bold move for the billionaire, following the trend of other high-profile wealthy climate philanthropy such as Prince William’s Earthshot Prize, the question remains about whether the Amazon CEO is just trying to distract from his company’s poor environmental practices.
Should Bezos be criticized for not doing more–or praised for giving away roughly 8% of his net worth?