Bezos

Photo Credit: Indian Express

Jeff Bezos and Billionaire Philanthropy

By

Nov. 17 2020, Updated 9:19 p.m. ET

On Monday, the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos announced large grants he would be giving to climate change organizations. But we should be careful not to look at the move with rose-tinted glasses.

The Amazon founder made the announcement via his personal Instagram page. He posted an image of the globe sounded by trees with the words “Bezos Earth Fund” underneath. The caption explained the project and the recipients were listed underneath:

Blockquote open

“I’ve spent the past several months learning from a group of incredibly smart people who’ve made it their life’s work to fight climate change and its impact on communities around the world. I’m inspired by what they’re doing, and excited to help them scale. Today, I’m pleased to announce the first Bezos Earth Fund recipients—16 organizations working on innovative, ambitious, and needle-moving solutions. This $791 million in donations is just the beginning of my $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and others. We can all protect Earth’s future by taking bold action now.”

- Blockquote close
Article continues below advertisement

“I’ve spent the past several months learning from a group of incredibly smart people who’ve made it their life’s work to fight climate change and its impact on communities around the world. I’m inspired by what they’re doing, and excited to help them scale. Today, I’m pleased to announce the first Bezos Earth Fund recipients—16 organizations working on innovative, ambitious, and needle-moving solutions. This $791 million in donations is just the beginning of my $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and others. We can all protect Earth’s future by taking bold action now.”

Bezos
Article continues below advertisement

Bezos announced the $10 billion commitment back in February of this year.

Of course, it is good to give to environmental causes and the commitments look impressive. But the more power someone has, the more scrutiny their actions require. And being the richest man in the world comes with a lot of power.

Critics have noted that the commitment is somewhat undercut by Amazon’s environmental record.

In 2014 the company made a commitment to power its expanding fleet of data centers with 100 percent renewable energy. But they quickly abandoned that promise. In the years since, Amazon has formed relationships with polluters like BP and Shell. This lead Greenpeace to call the company out in a 2019 report: “Despite Amazon’s public commitment to renewable energy, the world’s largest cloud computing company is hoping no one will notice that it’s still powering its corner of the internet with dirty energy.”

Article continues below advertisement

Giant corporations are largely responsible for the climate crisis. The fact that they have not been broken up or held to account is a big part of the reason it’s so dire. So we should be skeptical that giant cooperations and their owners will save the day. The 1 percent would very much prefer that governments not get involved in the climate crisis. They use their money to ensure they don’t. But the climate crisis cannot be solved by the private sector alone. Contributing to climate causes in this way means that any action will take place on Bezos’s terms. And he isn’t a tree hugger by any means.

Theodore Schleifer of Recode notes that the money may not be going to the organizations most likely to make a real impact on climate change. “If you were hoping for the tech billionaire to make moonshot investments in unheard-of but highly effective charities, Bezos’s gifts will disappoint you. But if you were hoping for massive cash injections into well-financed, uncontroversial, and long-established organizations, Bezos fulfills your expectations.”

We should always be skeptical of billionaire philanthropy because for the most part, they couldn’t have become billionaires without contributing to the very problems they claim to be solving.

Advertisement

Latest News News and Updates

    © Copyright 2022 Bombshell. Bombshell is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.