Amazon founder Jeff Bezos launches US$10 billion fund to combat climate change

In a file photo taken on March 7, 2017, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos speaks about the future plans of Blue Origin during an address to attendees at Access Intelligence's Satellite 2017 conference in Washington.
In a file photo taken on March 7, 2017, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos speaks about the future plans of Blue Origin during an address to attendees at Access Intelligence's Satellite 2017 conference in Washington.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon and the world's richest man, said Monday (Feb 17) he was committing US$10 billion (S$13.9 billion) to a new fund to tackle climate change.

In a post to his 1.4 million followers on Instagram, the e-commerce tycoon said the Bezos Earth Fund would "fund scientists, activists, NGOs - any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world."

"Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet," said Bezos, whose net worth is estimated to be around US$130 billion.

"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, who maintained his status as the world's richest person despite an expensive divorce last year, said his new foundation would begin issuing grants this summer.

Last September Bezos said Amazon would pledge to become carbon neutral by 2040 and said the company would order 100,000 electric delivery trucks.

Rather than make investments which the business guru might profit from, the fund will allocate grant money to projects, the New York Times said, quoting unnamed sources familiar with the initiative.

Bezos divulged few details on his social media post, which attracted overwhelmingly positive responses from his followers.

Amazon has been criticised for creating large amounts of waste from the packaging it delivers its products in, as well as for the emissions from huge fleets of delivery vehicles.

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

The New York Times said that even if Bezos spent the full US$10 billion immediately, he would still be the world's richest person.

Last week, the billionaire reportedly agreed to buy a Beverly Hills mansion built in the 1930s by Hollywood movie mogul Jack Warner for US$165 million, a record price for a California home.