The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos the chief executive of Amazon who has a net worth of approximately $185 billion, committed $10 billion in February 2020 towards Climate Change and the Climate Crisis – the largest donation he has ever made and the largest donation of 2020.
He also revealed his Climate Pledge where he committed Amazon to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement ten years early, with Amazon being carbon-neutral by 2040. The Bezos Earth Fund will help scientists, activists and NGOs combat the climate crisis, with $791 million already being provided in grants to 16 different groups, including The ClimateWorks Foundation ($50 million), The Natural Resources Defense Council ($100 million), The Nature Conservancy ($100 million), The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice ($43 million) and The Union of Concerned Scientists ($15 million).
These pledges and donations come from persuasion from Amazon employees who have been pushing Bezos for years to make a change. They have pressed for more aggressive action towards climate goals and have staged walkouts and publicly spoke about how the company could change for the better. With Amazon being one of the largest corporations in the world, the impact that could be made from these pledges is significant.
Amazon’s carbon footprint was revealed, with it being announced that in 2018 approximately 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide were emitted into the atmosphere, putting them into the top 150 emitters in the world. In 2019, Amazon’s carbon footprint was 51.17 million metric tons which have been estimated as being the equivalent as 13 coal-fired power plants running for one year or 11 million cars driving for a1year.
The company also has data centres that power cloud computing which are further provided to the oil and gas industries – employees are continuing to push Amazon executives to pull this supply. The argument from employees is that making the exploration of fossil fuels cheaper makes it harder for renewable energy to emerge in the global economy, which in reality is the opposite of what scientists, activists and NGOs are working at trying to achieve.
There is still pressure from the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice group who have commended Bezos contributions but also stated that “one hand cannot give what the other is taking away”. This refers to Bezos contributing large sums towards climate action but still supporting oil and gas exploration.
Amazon taking public steps towards mitigating their impact is a huge step in combatting the climate crisis, but is this undermined by their support to the oil and gas industry?