SEATTLE — Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and the world’s richest man, said on Monday that he was committing $10 billion to address the climate crisis in a new initiative he called the Bezos Earth Fund.
The effort will fund scientists, activists and nongovernmental organizations, Mr. Bezos said in a post on Instagram. He said he expected to start issuing grants this summer.
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” he wrote. “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.”
Mr. Bezos has in the past done little philanthropy. With a net worth of $130 billion, he long preferred to focus on Amazon and other private ventures, such as Blue Origin, which makes rockets. Mr. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.
More recently, Mr. Bezos has ramped up his giving. His largest donation to date was $2 billion, unveiled in September 2018, to help homeless families and build a network of Montessori preschools, an effort that he announced with his then-wife, MacKenzie.
In September, Mr. Bezos unveiled the Climate Pledge, committing Amazon to meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years ahead of schedule and to be carbon neutral by 2040. As part of the pledge, Mr. Bezos said Amazon was ordering 100,000 electric delivery trucks from Rivian, a Michigan-based company that Amazon has invested in.
At the time, Mr. Bezos said Earth’s climate was changing faster than predicted by the scientific community five years ago. “Those predictions were bad but what is actually happening is dire,” he said.
Mr. Bezos made the pledge after Amazon’s employees agitated on climate change. For a year, workers pressed Amazon to be more aggressive in its climate goals, staging walkouts and talking publicly about how the company could do better.
On Monday, Mr. Bezos provided only rudimentary details about what the new climate effort would do and did not directly address priorities that he would support, other than “any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.”
The fund will provide donations, rather than make investments that Mr. Bezos would expect to see a profit from, according to a person with knowledge of the plan who was not authorized to speak publicly. The new fund is not connected to Amazon.
Even if Mr. Bezos were to spend all $10 billion immediately, he would still remain the world’s richest man, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. This month, Mr. Bezos sold more than $4 billion in Amazon shares as part of a prearranged trading plan, according to regulatory filings. Amazon declined to comment on the share sales.
Mr. Bezos has also been spending his fortune in other ways. He recently agreed to pay $165 million for a Beverly Hills estate owned by David Geffen, the media mogul and co-founder of DreamWorks. Separately, Bezos Expeditions, which oversees The Post and Mr. Bezos’ charitable foundation, is purchasing 120 undeveloped acres in Beverly Hills for $90 million, though the deal is not finalized.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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