What does Jeff Bezos' Earth Fund mean for climate change?

What does Jeff Bezos' Earth Fund mean for climate change?

It has been about a month since Jeff Bezos announced his Bezos Earth Fund, to help fight “the biggest threat to our planet” as Bezos called it in his announcement via Instagram. And now that we have had some time to think about what the earth fund is and what it could do to help in the quest of solving the climate crisis.

What is the Bezos Earth Fund? What is being said? And what isn’t?

Going by the Instagram post put up by Bezos, the Earth Fund initiative will help scientists, NGOs, activists to amplify known ways and explore new ways of fighting climate change.

What is interesting however is the lack of any details provided by Bezos or his representatives.

Some important questions which need to be answered.

Who is in charge of the fund? The allocation of the funds will depend much upon who is actually responsible for making the allocation and grants.

Previously, the recipients of any of Bezos’ grants have been selected by a small group of advisors. Should that be the case this time around, one major concern we cannot overlook is where the funding is focused. Is it going to be focused on rural & flood-prone areas which are rarely a focus for billionaire philanthropists or is the focus going to be on urban areas where the philanthropists reside?

Another fact which is still unclear about the Bezos Earth fund is the period of time over which the grants will be made.

If the funds are going to be made available over a long period of time, the question becomes, will 10 Billion even be enough at the rate which the climate is already changing.

10 billion over a period of 10-20 years will probably prove to be insufficient in the fight against the adversely changing climate.

Another concern over the fund would be that it is a private fund.

Will the research carried under the grants of this fund be treated as privately funded research?

If so, will the raw data be made available to others, unlike other private funded research projects?

If the raw data is not made available to the public, it puts a limitation on the benefits of the third biggest charity the world has ever seen. To solve an issue such as climate change, it is crucial to have access to the raw data of the research covered by the Bezos Earth Fund for others to build further on the research to be able to fight climate change more effectively.

The timing of the announcement of the fund is also questionable.

The announcement came at a time when Amazon employees were increasingly vocal about the impact that the company was having on the climate and are pushing the company to cut down on its carbon footprint.

Amazon reported emissions of 44.4 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, a number that exceeds the annual emissions of all of Denmark.

Amazon has also committed to cut its net emissions to zero by 2040. However, that might be too late if the rate of climate change continues to accelerate.

Among all of the uncertainty, it is positive that a fund like this one exists, and that a billionaire is putting up a huge sum of money towards saving the planet.

So what could be done with the 10 Billion Earth Fund? We take a look at a few things that could benefit from the earth fund.

  • Solar/Renewable sources of energy
  • Finding new and more efficient ways to harness solar and other renewable sources of energy is a crucial part of moving away from fossil fuels which have a huge impact on our climate.

    Persuading the governments to stop funding fossil fuels will also be a huge task which could benefit from the earth fund.

  • Awareness & political mobilization
  • Raising awareness about climate change is the biggest piece of the puzzle to solve climate change.

    Another big part is the political mobilization.

    If Bezos can help both these causes, we might see a bigger movement start across the globe with governments backing sustainability programmes and initiatives on a larger scale.

  • Ecological Protection
  • Any programmes which can be put in place to prevent ecological destruction such as the recent Amazon and Australian fires need to be amplified through the Bezos Earth fund.

    The best way to save the planet from climate change is to prevent further damage to the climate and protecting the ecological balance is the most crucial part of it.

  • First of their kind projects
  • Organizations which are trying to protect the environment or slow down climate change in new ways are often in need of funding in order to carry out R&D of their own.

    Investing in such ventures could prove to be a breakthrough in how we deal with climate change.

  • Decarbonize
  • Technologies which could reverse or stop the damage caused to the climate, but are too risky for businesses and too expensive for governments, such as carbon capture and storage need investment to scale up and be effective quickly. The Earth Fund could prove to be a great contributor to such developments.

  • Powering NGO projects
  • Bezos’ cash could go a long way in powering NGO projects such as massive tree-planting campaigns which could help fight climate change.

    According to the Arbor Day Foundation, $1 could plant a new tree in a damaged forest. If that is to be believed, just a small portion of the Bezos Earth Fund could help us recover forests lost in fires and man-made destruction in order to make space for plantations.

    While there is no shortage of criticism towards the Bezos Earth fund, we should not forget what impact it could have on saving the environment. It also has the potential to start a movement for businesses to start considering sustainability seriously and make it a part of their day to day activities. There is no shortage of green initiatives it could fund either.

    And every step taken towards protecting the environment is a step towards fighting climate change and Jeff Bezos’ fund is undeniably a big step in the fight.

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