Written by Kristina Norgard.
On Monday, Feb. 17, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the debut of his Bezos Earth Fund via an Instagram post. Bezos shared in his caption of a picture of the Earth from a view in outer space, professing “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 explained that the money will go to actual purposes that are actively working towards a greener future, “This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” The CEO seemed confident that if more people and companies other than himself contributed, that they could make a huge impact, “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”
This large scale recognition from the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world is a huge step forward in the climate change conversations happening around the globe. Bezos has lots of influence, as well as money, and because of that – it can give a lot of hope to those who are deeply concerned about the current environmental state of the planet. The fact that Bezos is directly encouraging other companies and organizations to follow where he is leading is huge, as just by being a rich and successful man, lots of other business owners, big or small, look up to him. Although he can be incredibly controversial on multiple fronts, if this is legitimately going to help the planet, this was a really good step in the right direction. Billionaires have no reason to have as much money as they do. If Bezos can convince other billionaires to do the same as him, we might have a shot at saving the planet. Bezos stated “it’s going to take collective action.”
The keyword here though is action, not a philanthropic monetary donation. As money is necessary and does help a lot, it is not the same, but is akin to “thoughts and prayers.” Jeff Bezos owns a company that contributes greatly to the Earth’s current state. Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@AMZNforClimate on Twitter) took to their platform to express how they felt about Bezos’ benefaction and promise. “We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away.” The employees of the company worth $160 billion questioned the business’s ethics and past decisions, “The people of Earth need to know: When is Amazon going to stop helping oil & gas companies ravage Earth with still more oil and gas wells? When is Amazon going to stop funding climate-denying think tanks like the Competitive Enterprise Institute and climate-delaying policy? When will Amazon take responsibility for the lungs of children near its warehouses by moving from diesel to all-electric trucking?”
Amazon, like many other companies, contributes greatly to the destruction of the planet. Bezos’ pledge, along with his actions, makes us question what the right answer – for every company and person to do next? It seems as though we are putting one step forward, but how many steps are we also taking backward?