Jeff Bezos announces the Bezos Earth Fund, a $10 billion investment in the environment

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There comes a point in every billionaire’s life where they realize: you cannot take it with you. They tend to also realize that it looks f–king terrible to not have some sort of big charitable initiative. Bill Gates came to that conclusion years after he became a billionaire, and he’s spent much of the past two decades focused on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is where the bulk of his money now goes to. Jeff Bezos has seemingly just come to the conclusion that he needs to start putting major money into some kind of charitable endeavors. So he’s doing this: The Bezos Earth Fund.

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

[From Jeff Bezos’ Instagram]

“…To amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change…” I mean… it’s okay. It’s not great. I’m one of those people who believes if I had tens of billions of dollars to spend on charity, I could do more than just “vaguely amplify environmental stuff.” I’m not minimizing the impending climate change disaster – it IS a disaster already and chickens are coming home to roost in our lifetimes, I know that. But also… homelessness, food insecurity, disease (treatable diseases), the dismantling of white, male and oligarchical power structures, the need to put real money into educating an unwilling MAGA populace, and about a million other things. Besides, Amazon is in bed with oil & gas. The Amazon Employees for Climate Justice group released a statement too:

So… yeah. I mean, I’m glad Bezos is getting started and yadda yadda yadda. Honestly, the best gossip-read I have on this is that the Bezos Earth Fund might completely overshadow Prince William’s Earthshot Prize, which was branded as “the Nobel Prize of the environmental world” and promised to give money to people who came up with “solutions” to environmental problems. And then Prince William and Jeff Bezos buzzed off in their private jets.

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35 Responses to “Jeff Bezos announces the Bezos Earth Fund, a $10 billion investment in the environment”

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  1. Heather says:

    When $10 billion is the start-up amount, it is best to keep the over-arching-umbrella vague like “impacts of climate change” because it allows the organization to delve into niche departments without setting themselves up in the weeds from the get-go.
    Given the fact that Amazon has such an impact on the environment, I think this is the most natural venture for Bezos. Good for him!

    • StellainNH says:

      Considering that his company paid no taxes, this is just a drop in the bucket for him. He’s trying to look like a good guy when he’s not.

    • Eliza_ says:

      I’ll believe it when it comes from his own pocket. He started a foundation and put zero of his own wealth into it. I mean he’s just promised the value to be invested in an undisclosed amount of time for no known or announced projects. It’s less transparent than his girlfriends game.

    • Heather says:

      Oh, I don’t know. I’m just happy about $10billion being invested in the climate crisis. I don’t much care which one of his pockets it comes from. And I’m not about shaming someone because they could be paying more. I donate $40/month to a charity. Could I afford more? Yes, I could. Should I be shamed because I don’t, or praised for doing anything at all?
      Now, should he be forced to pay taxes? Absolutely! In fact, he should be paying at a higher rate than most.
      But, to me, that’s a separate issue altogether. JMO

  2. Tiffany says:

    I will never forget a story I read (I think it was Forbes, but don’t hold be to it) but they crunched some numbers and this dude is on track to be the world’s first trillionaire.

    First, it is frightening that something like that can be possible.

    Second, 10 billion from this dude is equivalent to the change you find in the bottom of your bag or in your coat pocket randomly and I am feeling some kind of way about it.

    • (TheOG)jan90067 says:

      And let’s not forget: Amazon pays NO corporate taxes, and this foundation will offset any *personal* tax for him most likely.

      • Sarah says:

        Right. I’m feeling ambivalent about this at BEST. Yes, there’s attention on the issues but this is not out of the goodness of his heart. It’s a tax shelter and branding exercise for his legacy as well. How about paying corporate taxes, paying employees a living wage, providing health insurance? Exploitation of resources and labour is at the heart of the climate crisis, JEFF.

      • Ellie says:

        Those taxes would just go to funding corrupt politicians so at least this money will go directly to a good place.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        Those taxes would help shore up Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and could conceivably help government support meaningful environmental initiatives. GOod government can be more efficient than many a private initiative.

      • Ellie says:

        Lol who is this good government you mention?

  3. Nikomikaelx says:

    MM, i do think environment is the best thing to focus on, it doesn’t matter if we fix diseases and homelessness etc if we don’t have a planet/ are alive at all.

  4. Pixie says:

    We really need to find a way to rob the rich, because this is getting ridiculous. He is literally giving money to amplify a problem he is also causing, and expecting praise. He shouldn’t be able to show his face in public without getting tomatoes pelted at him.

    • ChipDip says:

      Stop ordering from Amazon.

      • Pixie says:

        @ChipDip Sure, but it’s not enough. We need a large international movement dedicated to stopping the uber-wealthy from destroying the Earth and decimating communities. It’s going to take a lot more than individual boycotts.

  5. wellsie says:

    I was debating recently whether or not to cancel my Prime membership because of all of troublesome issues that surround Amazon. I bet I am not alone. Very timely announcement.

    • Tiffany says:

      You very well could be on to something.

      Dude has not had the best couple of years, press wise, and between the stories of Amazon’s labor practices, his divorce, the lack of paying taxes and other bullying tactics when setting up hubs here in the U.S., the lawsuit against the government, the spyware. It can go on and on and stories are getting longer and longer and getting peoples attention and this is resulting in stock price fluctuation.

    • Gina says:

      You’re not alone. I’ve been a long time Amazon customer and I’ve decided this year I’m really scaling back. I’m not comfortable with the amount of money going to that man and how little he does for his employees.

  6. megs283 says:

    How about he starts with paying his “contractors” a fair living wage? With benefits? https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/12/26/18156857/amazon-flex-workers-prime-delivery-christmas-shopping

  7. sherry says:

    We don’t need think-tanks. we need immediate action.

  8. Mousy says:

    Im always curious what billionaires like these mean when they want to “help with climate change and the environment”. If we (mostly The West) consumed less, used fewer electronics, ate less meat, relied less on fossil fuels/used public transit more, and our government changed subsidies for more biodiversity in farming instead of it all going to corn, it would vastly change the environment for the better. However, it would likely mean these people wouldnt be NEARLY as rich as they are. So, at what point are these people willing to give that up?

    Switching to reusables and electric cars are great and all but were at the point of no return and were going to need a bigger cultural shift for that things to improve. If Bezos ends up running his foundation anything like his company, I highly doubt its going to be more than a photo-op.

  9. ME says:

    Dude could have gave his employees a raise and benefits. Nope guess that’s not important. Glad I have never supported Amazon.

  10. adastraperaspera says:

    These grants will make a huge difference to the individuals and institutions on the ground who are tooling up to fight climate change in a myriad of ways. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice clearly believe they had a hand in making this happen. I think that’s plausible, so good for them!

    Back in the 90s, Amazon employees started including a gay flag icon in their online phone listings. A few years later, an affinity group was formed called “Glamazon,” which joined the Seattle Pride Parade and pushed many policies within the company to guarantee employees in all locations would have equal access to jobs, promotions, etc. So I do know that corporate-level employees can create big change at Amazon. Hourly workers and temps in the fulfillment centers–not so much.

    Now, do I believe Amazon should have had to pay taxes over the last twenty years, so we could adequately fund our own government-led climate science initiatives? Yes. Absolutely. But why didn’t they have to? Well, part of the answer is that we had 1980s Reagan deregulation that paired with US manufacturing companies seeking higher profits via cheap, non-union labor. By the 1990s this created a perfect storm that wiped out whole communities. Companies were allowed to go overseas and abandon US cities and towns (and unions). This meant that the tech boom took place on a field that was weakened–state and local governments were desperate for any jobs. This is where Bezos stepped in with his fulfillment centers and a cut a deal where he got state grants and tax cuts for setting up shop in abandoned warehouses such as the Campbellsville, Kentucky Fruit of the Loom factory (which had moved to Mexico). A pattern was established where corporations started 100% calling the shots, and the lack of laws to constrain them means we’ve returned to a sort of “company town” model like we had with coal barons in the earlier 20th century. That needs to change.

    This is a very long way to say…unfortunately with the world on fire, it seems we have to accept handouts from billionaires who were created by our own lack of effective governance. I hope we have the political will going forward to stop this “billionaire-creating machine.”

  11. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I love that someone is giving money to our planet. We’ve only got this one, and I’m not seeing a future in space yet, not for many many years. It’ll be a race to be sure. BUT. I tend to side-eye all these billionaires focusing on our environment, flight and launching sports cars into space. It kinda cements the notion that they don’t want to see anyone else be successful, they’re selfish, and they’re only interested in furthering their own dynasty. I’d like to see better lives…for everyone. Emphasis on EVERYONE. Higher wages for all with a focus to raise quality of life. Fom teaching to farming to waste and everything between, working and contributing should be a celebration. Accessible healthcare and everything that entails start to finish, cradle to grave. Community improvements state to state, city to city. Quality education for everyone cradle to grave. Essentially, I’m talking about raising the standards for living for humans. A huge civil shift is paramount and we need to be important. As important as climate. As important as water. As important as food and shelter.

  12. L4frimaire says:

    Jeff Bezos is a bit of a Lex Luther, but so interesting to see what he actually does and if it’s sincere. If this is partly a response to pressure from his employees, that is a very good thing. He should pay them more and improve their working conditions. My petty likes that this is a total cock-block to Williams little Earthshot prize; maybe they’ll fight over the naming rights. Let’s face it, none of these initiatives are going to change much unless there is serious government investment in changing laws, investing in research, and overhauling infrastructure, as well as collecting more taxes from people like Bezos and corporations like Amazon. This feudal approach helps, we’ll see how effective it actually is.

  13. OriginalLala says:

    If he has so much money laying around (no doubt helped by the fact that Amazon pays no corporate taxes) maybe he can start paying employees a fair wage?

    Billionaires are made on the back’s of others, never forget that.

    • Sarah says:

      THIS! Nobody gets to be this rich without stepping on some necks and skirting more than a few tax codes and banking regulations.

  14. margie says:

    It’s like The Human Fund, but for Earth. George Costanza is loving this.

  15. Faye G says:

    He’s been criticized for decades here in my home town of Seattle, for not doing enough charity work. His company has helped caused the cost of living to skyrocket, and contributed to chronic gridlock and homelessness, yet he’s hardly given back to the community at all. He’s very profit-hungry and cold hearted.

    This is a good first step, but I am still very skeptical of how much this will actually benefit the earth. In the meantime, why not give back to the actual local community? There are a lot of families who have been priced out of their communities and are facing financial hard times.

  16. Kath says:

    I’m sorry, but helping the environment is definitely more important than educating the population. All the people in the world could be perfect little educated babies, but they will be all perfectly educated and dead if people continue to ignore this.

  17. Emily says:

    I’m going to be a downer here. If he spent the money in one place it could be more impactful than grants to thousands of groups. We don’t need to look for solutions, we know what they are and there is no political or corporate will to make these big investments. He’s shifting the onus to groups already doing the work. He should change his company’s practices and do one big things thing like purchase land to protect it, invest in the infrastructure needed to transition to renewable energy etc. that no one government or engo has the funds to do alone like Bezos does.

  18. whybother says:

    what do I think when I read the title?
    meh, just another billionaire wants his tax deduction

  19. Jessica says:

    He is the worst. In comparison, I donated a dollar today. Where is my award?