Jeff Bezos lays out next steps for his US$10 billion Earth pledge

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Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos Tours The Spheres On Opening Day (PHOTO: Bloomberg)
The first of the grants will be released this year with a focus on the Congo Basin, tropical Andes and tropical Pacific Ocean. (PHOTO: Bloomberg)

By Sophie Alexander

(Bloomberg) — Jeff Bezos revealed that US$1 billion of his US$10 billion Earth Fund pledge to fight climate change will be directed to conservation efforts, principally targeting key areas for biodiversity and carbon stocks.

The first of the grants will be released this year with a focus on the Congo Basin, tropical Andes and tropical Pacific Ocean, according to a statement Monday to coincide with a Climate Week event in New York.

“By most metrics, life is better than it was in the past. Global poverty rates are lower, infant mortality and life expectancies are better, and education rates are much higher,” Bezos, 57, said in the statement. “There is a notable exception — the natural world is not better today than it was 500 years ago, when we enjoyed unspoiled forests, clean rivers, and the pristine air of the pre-industrial age. We can and must reverse this anomaly.”

Bezos, the world’s second-richest person and founder of Amazon.com Inc., has promised to distribute US$10 billion by 2030. His current net worth is around US$194.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Conservation is the first of a three-part “nature strategy” the Earth Fund will support, with future commitments for landscape restoration and food-system transformation.

So far, the fund has distributed US$864 million. Earlier this month, Bezos announced he would give an additional US$130 million to groups supporting the Justice40 Initiative, an effort by the Biden administration to fight climate change and support disadvantaged communities, by the end of the year.

The Earth Fund’s statement quoted world leaders lauding the pledge, including Amina Mohammed, United Nations deputy secretary general, John Kerry, U.S. Special presidential envoy for climate, and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“I look forward to working more with the Bezos Earth Fund in our shared fight for the planet in the run up to COP26,” Johnson said, referring to the international climate change meeting to be held in Glasgow, Scotland starting in late October.

Johnson was scheduled to meet Bezos on Monday, with the Prime Minister saying beforehand that he planned to tell the billionaire that Amazon must pay its fair share of taxes in the country and address working standards for U.K. employees. Johnson also said he would congratulate Bezos “on his massive forestry initiative.”

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