Published: February 18, 2020 7:47:33 am
Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and the world’s richest man, said on Monday that he was committing $10 billion to address the climate crisis in a new initiative he called the Bezos Earth Fund.
The effort will fund scientists, activists and nongovernmental organizations, he said in a post on Instagram. Bezos, who has been pushed by Amazon employees on climate issues, said he expected to start issuing grants this summer.
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” he wrote. “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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Bezos has in the past done little philanthropy. With a net worth of $130 billion, he long preferred to focus on Amazon and other private ventures, such as Blue Origin, which makes rockets. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.
More recently, Bezos has ramped up his giving. His largest donation to date was $2 billion, unveiled in September 2018, to help homeless families and build a network of Montessori preschools.
Margaret O’Mara, a professor at the University of Washington who studies the history of tech companies, called the new Bezos fund “a very powerful statement” and said the Amazon chief executive’s actions followed the steps that other tech moguls, such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, had taken to address the warming planet.
Philanthropy, she added, typically comes in the wake of amassing great fortunes. “This is yet another reminder that we are in a second Gilded Age,” she said.
Bezos provided only rudimentary details about what the Bezos Earth Fund would do and did not directly address priorities that he would support, other than “any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.”
The new fund will provide donations, rather than make investments that Bezos would expect to see a profit from, according to a person with knowledge of the plan who was not authorized to speak publicly. The donation is one of the largest known commitments made by an individual, according to a database run by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
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