As Amazon’s efforts to protect the environment come under scrutiny, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has committed $10 billion to combat climate change.
The billionaire exec yesterday pledged roughly 7.7% of his net worth to establish the Bezos Earth Fund — a “global initiative” that will help support “scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” In an Instagram post, he wrote, “We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations and individuals.”
Amazon, however, has been criticized for some time over its environmental impact, including from its own workforce. Over the past year, hundreds of employee-members of the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice have challenged Amazon, which delivers more than 10 billion products a year, to reach zero carbon emissions and limit its work with fossil fuel firms.
In response to Bezos’ announcement of the fund, the AECJ wrote, “We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away. The people of Earth need to know: When is Amazon going to stop helping oil and gas companies ravage Earth with still more oil and gas wells? … 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?”
Late last month, the AECJ released a video about their campaign on social media, defying a corporate policy that requires employees seek permission from the company before going public to discuss certain corporate issues. The group claimed that Amazon disciplined employees in 2019 after some of them had spoken to the Bezos-owned Washington Post in opposition to Amazon’s continued work with oil and gas companies to extract fossil fuels.
Over the past year, Amazon has taken new steps to address climate issues: In September, it announced its Climate Pledge, a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by drastically reducing its emissions within the next two decades as well as investing $100 million in reforestation projects around the world. Meanwhile, AECJ members said that they had been calling on the company to tackle climate change for nearly a year.
“Amazon took a bold step when it announced the Climate Pledge, committing the company to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement 10 years early, and we’re incredibly excited about the Bezos Earth Fund,” Amazon said in a statement to FN. “Jeff’s passion and this extraordinary personal contribution to the fight against climate change are going to have a huge impact.”
This story has been updated with a statement from Amazon.
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