Jeff Bezos gives $607 million to climate groups in Earth Fund push

This brings Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' total giving to more than US$1 billion. PHOTO:REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced US$443 million (S$606 million) in donations to climate organisations on Monday (Dec 6) as the world's second-richest person ramps up his philanthropy.

The most recent contributions are in addition to the US$791 million he gave to 16 organisations last year as part of his US$10 billion commitment to his Earth Fund to fight climate change. Mr Bezos has promised to distribute the full amount by 2030.

Of the 44 grants announced on Monday, some US$130 million goes to help the Justice40 initiative, an effort by President Joe Biden's administration to fight climate change and support disadvantaged communities.

Another US$261 million is for a plan to protect 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030, with a focus on the Congo Basin and tropical Andes. The remaining US$51 million will support land restoration in the United States and Africa.

"The goal of the Bezos Earth Fund is to support change agents who are seizing the challenges that this decisive decade presents," Dr Andrew Steer, the fund's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Mr Bezos, 57, has been on a giving spree this year after stepping down as CEO of online retail giant Amazon and flying to the edge of space on one of his Blue Origin rockets.

Monday's announcement brings his total giving to more than US$1 billion, including US$100 million to the Obama Foundation and US$200 million to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Mr Bezos recently laid out his plans for the Earth Fund, including committing US$2 billion towards restoring nature and transforming food systems. He made that announcement to coincide with the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, last month, which he attended alongside world leaders and activists.

The giving comes as Amazon, where Mr Bezos is still executive chairman, faces controversy from labour activists amid fights for unionisation at its warehouses.

After losing a union vote at an Alabama warehouse, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is alleging that Amazon intimidated workers and pressured them to cast votes in a mailbox the company had installed on its property in view of security cameras. Amazon denied any wrongdoing. A second vote will be held.

Mr Bezos is worth US$195 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, mostly from his Amazon stake.

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