Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person said Monday that he plans to spend $10 billion of his own fortune to help fight climate change, after Amazon employees publicly pressured him and the company to do more to address the issue, CNN reports.
The Amazon CEO on Monday announced in an Instagram post that he’ll start giving grants this summer to scientists, activists and nonprofits working to mitigate the impact of climate change. Bezos will commit $10 billion “to start.”
The initiative, called the Bezos Earth Fund, will begin giving out grants this summer. Bezos is worth about $130 billion, so committing $10 billion to philanthropy isn’t taking a huge chunk out of Bezos’ net worth, it constitutes less than 8%. However, it is one of the biggest charitable pledges ever, according to a ranking by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, behind a $36 billion commitment by billionaire Warren Buffett in 2006 and an estimated $16.4 billion pledge by Helen Walton, the late wife of Walmart founder Sam Walton, in 2007.
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” Bezos said in the post. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change.”
Amazon, has an enormous ‘carbon footprint’. Last year, officials said the company would work to have 100% of its energy use come from solar panels and other renewable energy by 2030. Of course the company relies on fossil fuels to power planes, trucks and vans in order to ship the billions of items all around the world.
Bezos has been under pressure from his employees to do more to protect the environment. Workers in its Seattle headquarters have been vocal in criticizing some of the company’s practices. Last May thousands of employees signed a letter asking how the company planned to respond to climate change, and many of them staged a walkout in September calling on it to do more.
“It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals,” Bezos said.
Bezos’ $10 billion pledge was still not enough for Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, the group that staged last year’s walkout, they responded to Bezos’ latest pledge by saying:
“We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away,” the group said in a statement Monday, calling on Amazon to stop working with oil and gas companies or funding think tanks that deny climate change.
“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?” it added.