On Monday, Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos announced the first recipients of his scrutinized $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund grant to combat climate change.
The statement, which was made public on Instagram, named 16 environmental organizations as grantees of $791 million in donations, which Bezos said was “just the beginning of [his] $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and others.”
Details of Bezos Earth Fund Unclear
Among the 16 organizations are some of the biggest environmental non-profits in the US, such as the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the World Wildlife Fund. All of these groups have well over $100 million in revenue in the latest fiscal year if not $1 billion.
This is the first public update about the Bezos Earth Fund since it was announced in February, which was also done over Instagram. For a sum of money as large as $10 billion, much of the fund’s details still remain unclear, which has drawn scrutiny on the Internet.
Generosity or Green-Washed?
While the $10 billion contribution will be the second-largest philanthropic donation in history, it will constitute less than 7 percent of the Amazon founder’s $184 billion net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.
The donation comes in context of Bezos’ shaky philanthropic record, as well as criticism on Amazon’s climate inaction.
Even within Amazon, employees have spoken out against inadequate environmental policies, with thousands of them signing a letter last year demanding for a better company-wide climate plan.
After the Bezos Earth Fund announcement, The Amazon Employees for Climate Justice released a statement asking, “why did Amazon threaten to fire employees who were sounding the alarm about Amazon’s role in the climate crisis and our oil and gas business? What this shows is that employees speaking out works — we need more of that right now. Will Jeff Bezos show us true leadership or will he continue to be complicit in the acceleration of the climate crisis, while supposedly trying to help?”
In fact, Amazon has received criticism from the very organizations that Bezos is donating to. A recipient of the Bezos Earth Fund, the Environmental Defense Fund, has published an article contrasting Amazon’s lack of environmental stewardship compared to Walmart.