On Monday, the richest man in the world announced on Instagram that he would be launching “the Bezos Earth Fund.”
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share,” Bezos wrote in the caption.
“This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world,” he continued. “We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals. ”
The 56-year-old, who is worth nearly $130 billion, ended the post by saying he plans to “begin issuing grants this summer.”
Bezos’ commitment comes on the heels of Amazon telling its employees they could be fired for trying to publicly pressure the online retail giant to more urgently address climate change.
The group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said last month that its leaders had been threatened and questioned by Amazon’s human resources department about comments they made in the press last year. They had claimed that the company’s threats of job termination was a form of “targeting” meant to keep employees from speaking out further.
Bezos’ pledge of billions to climate change is a staunch departure from his previous giving behavior. Amazon has long been the subject of ire because Bezos is one of the few top U.S. billionaires who has not signed the Giving Pledge, a campaign founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage extremely wealthy people to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. Notably, Bezos’ now-ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, signed the pledge last year.
Bezos was also called out just last month for not being philanthropic enough when he announced that Amazon would donate $1 million Australian dollars (around $690,000 USD) to the ongoing wildfire crisis. Critics pushed back on the gesture, comparing the percentage of his donation to his massive wealth as well as those of other public figures who are worth far less than he is.