Jeff Bezos, one of the richest people in the world and founder of Amazon, pledged $10 billion to the Bezos Earth Fund to address climate change, according to an Instagram post.
The new initiative will fund scientists, activists, and organizations working to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
"Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet," he wrote in the post. "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."
No details have been revealed about the extent of the fund and its priorities beyond the broad umbrella of climate action, but the Bezos Earth Fund plans to begin disbursing grants in the summer.
Bezos has stayed away from philanthropy, according to the New York Times, instead using his immense wealth on pet projects like his space exploration company Blue Origin and building big clocks inside mountains.
The promised investment in climate action follows another recent philanthropic pledge of $2 billion to help homeless families in the US. Bezos has also said that Amazon will do its part to achieve the Paris climate agreement.
Other billionaires have turned their attention to climate change in recent years, too. Bill and Melinda Gates invest in climate resilience initiatives around the world and cutting edge technologies. Democratic presidential contender Tom Steyer has become a staunch advocate of climate action. And fellow tech entrepreneur Elon Musk creates electric cars and solar panels.
The growing interest in climate philanthropy reflects the growing awareness of the threat facing humanity.
The United Nations warns that the world needs "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society," to avoid catastrophic climate change resulting in droughts, extreme storms, heat waves, and disruptions to all facets of modern life.
Global Citizen is calling on billionaires to donate 5% of their wealth annually to achieve the United Nations’ Global Goals through the Give While You Live campaign.
Bezos has received extensive praise and media coverage for his pledge, but some environmental advocates argue that Bezos has to do a lot more. The environmental nonprofit 350.org said that if Jeff Bezos paid more in taxes then the Green New Deal, an ambitious proposal to prevent catastrophic climate change, could be funded.
"Amazon and Jeff Bezos have a long way to go in sufficiently addressing their own role in propelling the climate crisis," Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, North America director for 350.org, said in a statement. "We respect this investment as a first step in the right direction, insofar as it mobilizes resources towards people-oriented, restorative solutions, rather than false ones that inflate Amazon’s bottom line."
Jeff Bezos didn’t “donate” $10B to “fight climate change” he’s setting up a $10B venture called the “Bezos Earth Fund.” In other words, he’s founding a bank and using it to invest in “the green sector,” thereby profiting from & influencing how transition happens https://t.co/Y4573j2zPd— Chosun Chillbo (@hermit_hwarang) February 18, 2020