World’s richest man’s $1 billion gift to ‘Earth’

CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos (R) gestures as he addresses the Amazon's annual Smbhav event in New Delhi on January 15, 2020. - Bezos, whose worth has been estimated at more than $110 billion, is officially in India for a meeting of business leaders in New Delhi. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

The world’s richest man, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has revealed he has donated around US$800 million (AU$1 billion) to ‘protect planet Earth’.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Bezos said he had spent several months learning from climate change groups, and finally decided on where to distribute money from the Bezos Earth Fund.

“Today, I’m pleased to announce the first Bezos Earth Fund recipients—16 organizations working on innovative, ambitious, and needle-moving solutions,” he said.

“This $791 million in donations is just the beginning of my $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and others. We can all protect Earth’s future by taking bold action now.”

Scientists praised Bezos’ donation, saying it will finally give Earth a fighting chance against climate change.

“It really will shape the whole nature of the climate movement,” Drexel University professor, Robert J. Brulle told Wired. “There’s going to be this mad rush of cash.”

However, others believe it could be just another political ploy for the founder to ride out talks of higher taxes for the rich amid the US Election, and to better Amazon’s image.

The billionaire launched the Bezos Earth Fund back in February via another Instagram post, saying climate change was “the biggest threat to our planet”.

He committed an initial US$10 billion, saying grants would be issued later that year.

It’s one of the few philanthropic commitments Bezos has made. According to the NY Times, the last large donation Bezos made was US$2 billion towards homeless families back in 2018.

Since then, he’s been relatively quiet on the philanthropic front. Instead, he’s chosen to focus on his private ventures, like Blue Origin, which creates rockets, and The Washington Post, which he owns.

When Australia was battling its catastrophic 2019-20 bushfires, Bezos revealed Amazon would donate US$690,000, or AU$1 million to the cause.

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