Written by: Kimberly White

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has announced that he is committing $10 billion to help tackle the climate crisis through the launch of 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,” said Bezos. 

Bezos’ initiative will provide funding to scientists, activists, NGOs, and additional efforts to combat climate change around the globe. The Bezos Earth Fund will start issuing grants this summer. 

“We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals,” continued Bezos. 

Bezos’ pledge was met with criticism by some Amazon employees who feel the company has been hypocritical with its environmental impacts. 

“The international scientific community is very clear: burning the oil in wells that oil companies already have developed means we can’t save our planet from climate catastrophe. As history has taught us, true visionaries stand up against entrenched systems, often at great cost to themselves. We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away,” Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said in a statement

Amazon employees have been pressuring Bezos to take more ambitious action on climate change. Thousands of Amazon employees signed an open letter to Bezos and the Amazon Board of Directors, calling for the company to adopt a climate plan shareholder resolution and release a company-wide climate plan. 

The open letter deemed transitioning away from fossil fuels and ending “all custom solutions specifically designed for oil and gas extraction and exploration” a necessity for a company-wide climate plan.

In an effort to get Amazon to do more for climate, the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice staged a walkout last September.

The day before the walkout, Bezos announced The Climate Pledge, a commitment to meet the Paris Climate Accord a decade ahead of schedule. The Pledge challenges companies to achieve carbon neutrality across their businesses by 2040- a decade ahead of the Paris Climate Accord’s goal of 2050. 

To aid in the company’s journey to carbon neutrality, Amazon is building on its existing renewable energy commitment. Amazon pledges to reach eighty percent renewable energy by 2024 and 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. 

The company also committed to purchasing 100,000 electric delivery vehicles. Customers should see Amazon’s newly electrified fleet in 2021. By 2030, Amazon expects all 100,000 vehicles to be delivering packages, resulting in a savings of 4 million metric tons of carbon per year.

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice shared that while the Climate Pledge is a “huge win” there is much more that needs to be done. 

“Amazon still has work to do: halting its support of the fossil fuel industry, stopping donations to climate-denying politicians and think tanks, and stopping enabling the oppression of climate refugees,” the group said in a September 2019 statement

Currently holding the title of the world’s richest man, Bezos’ net worth is estimated at nearly $130 billion. His $10 billion pledge represents almost eight percent of his fortune. 

Header Image Credit: Seattle City Council/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)