Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund Announces $35 Million In New Grants To Climate Reporting And Sustainable Agriculture
The Bezos Earth Fund, a multi-billion dollar pledge by Jeff Bezos, the world’s third-richest person, is putting $34.5 million toward better climate reporting and sustainable food, the organization announced on Tuesday.
The new donations put the Earth Fund’s total amount granted at $1.66 billion. In early 2020, Bezos pledged to spend $10 billion over a decade to fight the impact of climate change. One third of the way into that ten year period, the organization has accomplished nearly 17% of its goal.
The newly announced grants include $19.1 million in funding for environmental impact reporting efforts. The Carbon Disclosure Project, or CDP, which is known for its A-F environmental impact ratings, will receive $9.9 million. The GHG Protocol, an international standard for calculating and disclosing greenhouse gas emissions, is being granted $9.25 million. The Earth Fund’s grants aim to help CDP and the GHG Protocol refine their models and increase the transparency of climate impact data. A spokesperson for the Earth Fund did not disclose the time period over which the new grants will be paid out, saying that grant terms vary.
“The global demand for greenhouse gas accounting and disclosure is skyrocketing,” Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund, said in a press release, emphasizing the need for trust in climate accountability initiatives.
Amazon, which Bezos founded and now chairs, has historically declined to participate in CDP’s ratings surveys and thus received “F” ratings since 2016. Amazon did submit CDP surveys in 2021 and 2022, but its 2021 report is not disclosed publicly. (All first-time participants have the option not to disclose their score, and its 2022 submission is marked “not scored” because the company submitted its response after the deadline, per CDP guidelines.)
Instead, Amazon uses the GHG Protocol to calculate its carbon footprint and releases the information in its own sustainability reports. Notably, the GHG Protocol takes into account renewable energy purchases to offset some of Amazon’s grid electricity consumption. Amazon has come under fire for using offsets to shape its overall carbon footprint reporting, rather than reducing its overall carbon dioxide emissions. A spokesperson for Amazon told Forbes that the company aims to fully power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.
The Earth Fund spokesperson emphasized that Amazon and the Earth Fund are separate entities, adding that the Earth Fund is supporting initiatives that address voluntary carbon market governance.
The remainder of the $34.5 million in grants go to making meat less environmentally damaging to cultivate and consume—what the Earth Fund calls “climate-friendly” food. Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will receive $9.9 million for a virtual fencing project. In Cornell’s case, virtual fencing means equipping livestock with devices that keep them within designated grazing areas, lessening the need to chop down large swaths of forest to build physically fenced fields. The Earth Fund is also granting $5.5 million to the Good Food Institute, which in turn funds research on plant-based meat alternatives.
After an initial announcement of $791 million grants in 2020, the Earth Fund’s grantmaking pace has slowed. In 2021, the organization announced approximately $400 million in grants. In 2022, the amount was even smaller, falling just shy of $300 million.
The Earth Fund’s grantmaking pace is not necessarily linear, and the organization’s work also includes guidance for grantees, the organization’s spokesperson said, reaffirming that the Earth Fund will reach its $10 billion commitment.
Bezos has spent more time making grants and talking about his philanthropy since stepping down as Amazon CEO in 2021. Forbes estimates that Bezos has given $2.79 billion in his lifetime, prior to counting the newest grants. He gave away $690 million in 2022 alone, to Earth Fund grantees as well as to Bezos Academies, which provides tuition-free preschools for low-income families; the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund, which helps families experiencing homelessness; and toward the Courage & Civility awards announced in 2021 for chef Jose Andres and activist Van Jones to charities of their choice.
Bezos does not have his own private charitable foundation. He funds at least some of his charitable giving via gifts of stock; in 2022, he donated $735 million worth of Amazon stock to unnamed charitable entities. Some of it may have gone to donor-advised funds, which are like a charitable giving bank account that holds the assets until a donor wants to disperse some or all of the funds to a nonprofit group.
Past donations from the Bezos Earth Fund have gone to large climate organizations including the World Resources Institute, which is a partner of CDP, and the Environmental Defense Fund; a smattering of climate justice organizations; and landscape restoration and preservation groups, among others.
The news of the Earth Fund grants comes less than a day after Amazon announced a new round of 9,000 layoffs, following a January round of 18,000 layoffs.
Source: Fox Business
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