Jeff Bezos Finally Arrives To The Philanthropy Party, Pledges $15 Billion To Help Fight Climate Change

19 February 2020
Jeff Bezos, Billionaire, Amazon, Climate Change, Philanthropy Party
Image: Getty

But is the Amazon founder's miserly reputation already set in stone?

Whether he's dolling out pitiful amounts for charity or spending vast amounts on his own properties, whenever the world's richest man (well, except on the days when he isn't the world's richest man) puts his hand in his pocket and forks over a chunk of change, the world takes notice.

Perhaps unfortunately for Amazon magnate Jeff Bezos, who's success with running internet megagiant Amazon has made him among the richest people in modern history, the legacy left by philanthropic billionaires in the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett has meant that you can't really get away with just being rich any more. You have to be seen to be making a difference, particularly in a world where an increasingly frustrated and underpaid youth are starting to question the legality of being a billionaire at all.

Of course, over time, Bezos hasn't really helped his own cause. The tech boss, whose net worth fluctuates somewhere around $130 billion depending on how well Amazon stocks are doing on a given day, made headlines worldwide when he donated a paltry $500k out of his own pocket — or as many pointed out, roughly five minutes of his income — to help combat the effects of the disastrous Australian Bushfires. Keep in mind that this is a man who happily shelled out over $23,000 in parking tickets last year while he was renovating his DC mansion. Barely a few months later, he went and purchased the most expensive property ever sold in the state of California, handing over $164 million USD for his new pad.

Thankfully, however, it seems as if the act of philanthropy has been sold on him, as Bezos himself has announced that he's committing $10 billion USD of his own money on a new foundation to help combat climate change and its effects across the world.

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Today, I’m thrilled to announce I am launching the Bezos Earth Fund 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. This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world. 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

A post shared by Jeff Bezos (@jeffbezos) on

The $10 billion fork out represents the second largest single act of charity in recent tech history. Yet even so, both outsiders and Amazon employees have viewed the act with a certain degree of cynicism. It's fairly easy, for instance, to point to the fact that both Alphabet and Microsoft have pledged vast sums of money and strategic power to combating climate change and simply dismiss Bezos's move as a well-timed piece of PR.

Those closer to home have also pointed out that neither Amazon nor Bezos' track record of helping to combat any social problems are particularly stellar, and Bezos' announcement even drew ire from a well-known group of Amazon employees. In a statement, they said:

"As history has taught us, true visionaries stand up against entrenched systems, often at great cost to themselves. We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away.

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?"

Via GQ Australia