Skip to main content

Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund pledges $150 million to climate justice groups

Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund pledges $150 million to climate justice groups


Activists have pressured Bezos to funnel more money to communities hardest hit by climate change

Share this story Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos Speaks At The National Press Club
Jeff Bezos speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jeff Bezos’ $10 billion Earth Fund just doled out millions more in funding to groups fighting off climate change. This time, a lot of the cash is going to groups that advocate for communities of color and low-income neighborhoods, which often face the first and worst effects of climate change and fossil fuel pollution. 

The fund announced a total of $203.7 million in new grants today. Of that, more than $53 million will go toward communications on climate change and efforts to cut emissions from businesses. Another $20 million will go to groups focused on climate justice — a movement to stop climate change from taking a disproportionate toll on already marginalized communities.

A movement to stop climate change from taking a disproportionate toll on already marginalized communities

The Earth Fund plans to work with the Biden administration to disburse the biggest chunk of funding, $130 million, by the end of the year. That’ll go to organizations supporting a Biden administration initiative called Justice40 that the White House announced in January. It’s a plan to ensure that disadvantaged communities receive 40 percent of the “overall benefits” from federal investment in new infrastructure and climate solutions. 

The announcement comes after Bezos faced flak from activists for not earmarking enough funding for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. The fund allocated $791 million to environmental organizations in its first round of giving last year. A majority of that went to big green groups, including the World Wildlife Fund and Environmental Defense Fund, with deeper pockets than scrappier climate justice-focused organizations.

“We have to run and put our finger in so many different holes,” says Dwaign Tyndal, executive director of the Boston-based nonprofit Alternatives for Community and Environment. “We carry so much of this work, relative to the resources that are allocated ... Many of our groups are Black and brown, Indigenous groups and somehow that money has not trickled down.”

“Many of our groups are Black and brown, Indigenous groups and somehow that money has not trickled down.”

While activists say today’s announcement makes good progress on climate justice, it still falls short of the level they’d like to see when it comes to investments in the most vulnerable communities.

“The Bezos fund is improving, but they still have some ways to go,” says Maria Lopez-Nuñez, a deputy director of organizing and advocacy at the Newark, New Jersey-based Ironbound Community Corporation.

She wants to see at least 40 percent of investments from both Bezos’ Earth Fund and Biden’s Justice40 initiative flow into communities hard hit by climate disasters and pollution. Currently, roughly 30 percent of all the Earth Fund grants (including the “pledge” to give an additional $130 million later this year) have gone toward environmental justice initiatives.

The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, which advocates for Gulf Coast communities like Louisiana’s “cancer alley,” is one of the Earth Fund grantees named today. Cancer alley earned the moniker because of how its residents have coped with the health hazards from more than 150 refineries and chemical plants in the region. After Hurricane Ida hit the area hard last week, local organizations like RISE St. James are scrambling to document oil spills and chemical releases that the storm unleashed. The aftermath of Ida is an example of why similar grassroots groups need funding, activists tell The Verge.

“We want the real deal.”

Surrounding Bezos’ new round of funding is a much larger national debate over how to ensure that the Justice40 program serves those most in need. Activists and policymakers are still working to define what constitutes a disadvantaged community. Once that’s hammered out, they’ll also need to figure out what it looks like for those communities to receive 40 percent of “overall benefits” from federal investments. The language doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll get 40 percent of the actual funding, so community organizers like Lopez-Nuñez aren’t sure exactly what they’d be given.

“We don’t want byproducts. We want the real deal,” says Lopez-Nuñez. The real deal for Lopez-Nuñez is direct investment in vulnerable communities, not the undefined “overall benefits” of funding streams that communities themselves don’t control.

Even though Bezos has stepped down from his role as Amazon’s CEO, his climate legacy is still marred by the retail giant’s pollution, say activists like Lopez-Nuñez. The company has been the target of campaign after campaign by residents living with pollution from Amazon’s warehouses.

“The Earth Fund is a complicated fund, given how Bezos has made his wealth on the exploitation of workers and the environment,” Lopez-Nuñez says. “[The money] comes from our communities; it’s been extracted from our communities, at the cost of our health.”

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
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.

The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
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.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
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
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

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.

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.

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.