This week, Jeff Bezos—founder of retail platform Amazon and the richest man in the world—announced the launch of Bezos Earth Fund. Bezos is making an initial commitment of $10 billion to the fund, through which he will begin investing in companies and organizations this summer to help fight the climate crisis.

 
 
 
 
 
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Today, I’m thrilled to announce I am launching the Bezos Earth Fund.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. 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. This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world. We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ I’m committing $10 billion to start and will begin issuing grants this summer. Earth is the one thing we all have in common — let’s protect it, together.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ - Jeff

A post shared by Jeff Bezos (@jeffbezos) on

“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. 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,” Bezos captioned a photo of the Earth on Instagram. “This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs—any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world. We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals.” In addition to launching the Bezos Earth Fund, the billionaire has previously invested in the plant-based industry. Last year, Bezos helped Motif—a startup that allows plant-based food producers to reach larger demographics through its biotechnology platform—raise $90 million in a Series A round through Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a joint fund held by Bezos and fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Bill Gates. Bezos also participated in a $30 million investment round raised last year by The Not Company, a Chilean startup that makes vegan NotMayo and is using its artificial intelligence-powered discovery platform “Guiseppe” to identify plant-based proteins that can mimic animal products. 

While the $10 billion fund could have an impact on mitigating climate change, Bezos’ backbreaking employment conditions at Amazon and the company’s growing carbon footprint have led to widespread condemnation. In response to Bezos announcing the launch of the fund, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ)—a group of more than 350 Amazon employees who are critical of the company’s ties with the oil and gas industry—issued a statement.

“As history has taught us, true visionaries stand up against entrenched systems, often at great cost to themselves. We applaud Jess Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away,” the statement read. AECJ posed a series of concerns about Amazon’s practices such as supporting oil and gas companies, funding Competitive Enterprise Institute (a think tank that denies climate change), and continuing to rely on diesel-powered trucks instead of switching to electric vehicles. “Why did Amazon threaten to fire employees who were sounding the alarm about Amazon’s role in the climate crisis and our oil and gas business?” AECJ’s statement continued. “What this shows is that employees speaking out works—we need more of that right now. 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?”

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