The Amazon founder has been accused of not doing enough given the amount of power and wealth he has.
On Monday, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced his plans to invest $791 million in grants as part of his Bezos Earth Fund to 16 organizations currently working to protect the environment, CNN reports. These grants are part of the CEO's $10 billion pledge to support scientists, activists, NGOs, and other organizations solving the issue of climate change. The grantees include a mix of big name NGOs, labs, reforestation, and climate justice groups. While some have praised the move, it is important to remember that $791 million is only 0.42% of Bezos's net worth, which stands at a whopping $185.3 billion.
"I've spent the past several months learning from a group of incredibly smart people who've made it their life's work to fight climate change and its impact on communities around the world," the founder stated in an Instagram post on Monday announcing the news. "I'm inspired by what they're doing, and excited to help them scale." The group includes: The Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, ClimateWorks Foundation, Dream Corps Green For All, Eden Reforestation Projects, Energy Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, NDN Collective, Rocky Mountain Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, The Solutions Project, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.
While the $791 million in grants will make quite a large difference to these organizations, particularly those that do not receive regular investments, it will barely make a dent in Bezos's wealth. Earlier this year, just as the ongoing public health crisis got worse, he became the first person to ever be worth $200 billion. This is nearly $90 billion more than the world's second-richest person, Bill Gates, who's worth about $116.1 billion. Surely, someone who has this much money in the bank can afford to spend more than 0.42% of his wealth on the biggest challenge threatening the world right now.
Of course, Amazon has also come under great criticism for its own practices. While Bezos may fund multi-million dollar grants, his company is contributing to climate damage through unsustainable business practices, particularly the company's emphasis on faster and faster shipping. The CEO has also been facing immense pressure from his employees to do more to protect the environment. For example, in May last year, thousands of Amazon employees signed a letter asking the firm how it plans to respond to climate change. Dozens of these workers staged a walkout later that year in September as a form of protest.
Nonetheless, Amazon has made a commitment to be 100% powered by renewable energy by the year 2025. The company has also promised to be net zero carbon by 2040. Bezos stated in his post on Monday, "We can all protect Earth's future by taking bold action now." However, the question employees asked last summer still remains: "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?"