Story at a glance

  • Amazon CEO and the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos donated $791 million to 16 organizations focused on sustainability.
  • This is the first from a larger $10 billion pledge Bezos made to help stop climate change.

On Monday, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced the first recipients of the Bezos Earth Fund, who will share $791 million as an initial donation of the $10 billion pledge Bezos made to halt climate change.

Writing on Instagram, Bezos named 16 organizations that will work on “innovative, ambitious, and needle-moving solutions” to climate change, including 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.

One of the beneficiaries, the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), which is dedicated to research on sustainability initiatives, received $10 million from Bezos’s fund. RMI’s project will go into developing carbon-free buildings to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from commercial and residential buildings.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that within the U.S., the building sector accounts for about 48 percent of yearly greenhouse gas emissions.

"Addressing the climate crisis can start with the places we hold most dear— the buildings where we live and work—while also decarbonizing the way we produce and transport the materials that are the foundation of those buildings, as well as the backbone of our global economy, like steel and cement," said RMI CEO Jules Kortenhorst in a press release. "The Bezos Earth Fund commitment is an important catalyst to accelerating the impact needed to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2030."

Speaking to The Washington Post, President Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund spoke highly of Bezos’s efforts to better understand the climate crisis and how to efficiently allocate grants.

“He asked a lot of questions. It was very clear that he had already learned a lot about climate change and was very knowledgeable,” Krupp said. “He had studied the issue, and he was very focused on having the biggest impact he could with his contribution.”

The Environmental Defense Fund reportedly received $100 million from Bezos. The money will be allocated over three years, with most of it going toward funding a satellite that will monitor methane emissions from space.

“Solving the climate crisis requires investment in a wide set of solutions,” Krupp added. “The obstacle isn’t finding solutions, it is securing the funding to scale solutions quickly. Our hope is that this gift encourages other philanthropists to support climate solutions on the scale needed.”

Published on Nov 16, 2020