Jeff Bezos ’86 has pledged $10 billion — 7.5 percent of his current net worth — to combat global climate change. The money will be funneled through the Bezos Earth Fund, in what will be the second largest charitable contribution of all time.
“This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world,” Bezos wrote in an Instagram post Monday afternoon.
The title for the largest philanthropic gift of the 21st century is still held by Warren Buffett, who pledged in 2006 to give $43 billion of his wealth to the Gates Foundation.
The announcement comes after critics have attacked the Amazon billionaire for an alleged lack of charitable giving. With a net worth of $129.9 billion, Bezos is currently the richest person in the world but has not yet signed the Giving Pledge, the promise made by over 200 of the world’s richest people to donate over 50 percent of their wealth in their lifetimes or in their wills.
In 2018, Bezos unveiled the Day One Families Fund, a $2 billion commitment to funding early childhood education in low-income communities and supporting nonprofits that help homeless families. Still, he has faced criticism for failing to compete with other prominent billionaires’ patterns of philanthropy.
Bezos has also been criticized by its own employees for Amazon’s contributions to the climate crisis, as a major corporation with a large carbon footprint. Amazon also became the first signatory of the “Climate Pledge,” which aims to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accords by committing the company to reach net zero emissions by 2030.
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” Bezos 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.”
Now, the move to fight climate change in such magnitude has been seen by some as a direct response to this criticism.
“We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away,” wrote the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice group in a statement on Monday.
No information is yet available on exactly how the gift will be allotted, and what specific initiatives it will fund. Bezos stated that he will begin issuing grants in summer 2020.
“Earth is the one thing we all have in common — let’s protect it, together,” he wrote.