Skip to main content

Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund commits another $443 million to climate justice and conservation

Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund commits another $443 million to climate justice and conservation

/

Activists have pressured Bezos to prioritize climate justice

Share this story

Climate Week NYC Leaders Reception
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 20: Jeff Bezos speaks during the Climate Week NYC Leaders’ Reception
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Bezos Earth Fund

On Monday, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced his Earth Fund’s latest round of grants: $443 million to be spent primarily on land conservation and restoration and efforts to reduce environmental burdens on marginalized communities.

This year, the fund has pledged more than $3 billion for similar initiatives. In 2020, Bezos promised to funnel $10 billion — about 5 percent of his current net worth — toward tackling climate change this decade.

From the beginning, the Bezos Earth Fund has faced criticism

From the beginning, the Bezos Earth Fund has faced criticism, particularly from some grassroots environmental groups. At first, Bezos primarily funded big-name environmental groups with historically white leadership and comparatively large budgets rather than supporting more Indigenous and people of color-led community groups, critics pointed out. Other criticisms focused on how Amazon, the e-commerce giant Bezos founded, continues to pollute neighborhoods and emit increasing levels of greenhouse gases.

Since that early backlash, environmental justice — a movement to stop pollution and environmental degradation from disproportionately harming low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, and other vulnerable groups — has become a bigger part of the Bezos Earth Fund’s messaging. The fund’s latest round of funding sets aside $130 million for 19 different organizations doing “doing critical climate justice work.” It follows another $150 million pledged to climate justice groups in September.

The $130 million for environmental justice in this latest round of funding is intended to support the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative. Shortly after stepping into office in January, Biden created the initiative through an executive order to make sure that “disadvantaged communities” receive 40 percent of the “overall benefits” of federal investments in clean energy and climate action.

Bezos’ grantees include a wide range of groups that either gather data to inform policymaking, help underserved communities become more resilient to climate change, support tribes and Native communities, or plan to create training programs for the Justice40 initiative. For example, GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit that works to increase access to solar power, will get $12 million for its Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund.

The latest funding announcement also includes $261 million allocated to the international initiative to conserve 30 percent of Earth’s lands and oceans by 2030. That will focus on creating, expanding, and monitoring so-called “protected areas” — mostly in the Congo Basin and Tropical Andes. According to the Bezos Earth Fund, the grants will create 11 million hectares of newly protected areas in the Congo Basin, where 70 percent of Africa’s forests are located. In the Tropical Andes, another important carbon sink for the planet, the grants will convert an estimated 48 million hectares into protected areas.

Creating, expanding, and monitoring so-called “protected areas”

Forests and other ecosystems are extremely important in the fight against climate change because they trap and store carbon dioxide, keeping it out of the atmosphere. But the establishment of new protected areas, especially when not carefully implemented, can actually harm local communities. There’s a documented history of conservation efforts forcing Indigenous peoples off their lands to create national parks. The World Wildlife Fund, which is among Bezos’ grantees, was recently accused of failing to take responsibility for human rights abuses during a US Congressional hearing. That followed a Buzzfeed News investigation in 2019 that found that WWF-funded park rangers had been accused of murder, torture, and rape.

The Bezos Earth Fund says the newly protected areas will help “secure” local communities’ rights to 24 million hectares of land. It’s also spending an additional $25 million to kick off a new kind of “global mechanism” that could secure “support” for Indigenous peoples and local communities. Forests have tended to fare better under their care, research shows. There’s also an additional $51 million to restore landscapes in the US and Africa.

Closer to home for Bezos, Amazon was implicated in a recent report as playing an “outsized” role in port congestion and associated shipping pollution along the west coast of the US. And despite Amazon’s commitments to address climate change, the company’s carbon footprint grew by nearly 20 percent in 2020.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 18 minutes ago Striking out

A
Youtube
Andrew Webster18 minutes ago
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterAn hour ago
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew Webster1:05 PM UTC
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix

Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.


E
TikTok
Spain’s Transports Urbans de Sabadell has La Bussí.

Once again, the US has fallen behind in transportation — call it the Bussí gap. A hole in our infrastructure, if you will.


J
External Link
Jay PetersSep 23
Doing more with less (extravagant holiday parties).

Sundar Pichai addressed employees’ questions about Google’s spending changes at an all-hands this week, according to CNBC.

“Maybe you were planning on hiring six more people but maybe you are going to have to do with four and how are you going to make that happen?” Pichai sent a memo to workers in July about a hiring slowdown.

In the all-hands, Google’s head of finance also asked staff to try not to go “over the top” for holiday parties.


E
External Link
Insiders made the most money off of Helium’s “People’s Network.”

Remember Helium, which was touted by The New York Times in an article entitled “Maybe There’s a Use for Crypto After All?” Not only was the company misleading people about who used it — Salesforce and Lime weren’t using it, despite what Helium said on its site — Helium disproportionately enriched insiders, Forbes reports.


J
Youtube
James VincentSep 23
Nvidia’s latest AI model generates endless 3D models.

Need to fill your video game, VR world, or project render with 3D chaff? Nvidia’s latest AI model could help. Trained on 2D images, it can churn out customizable 3D objects ready to import and tweak.

The model seems rudimentary (the renders aren’t amazing quality and seem limited in their variety), but generative AI models like this are only going to improve, speeding up work for all sorts of creative types.