Menu Menu

Jeff Bezos vows to donate ‘most of his fortune’ to fight climate change

The Amazon founder declared in a recent interview with CNN that he plans to donate most of his wealth to ecological causes.

Surely the richest 1% of the population should be mandated to show at COP conferences, no? Maybe that’s just my preference.

Jeff Bezos, currently the fourth richest person on the planet – with an estimated net worth of $124bn – plans to become the biggest philanthropist the world has ever seen, apparently.

In a recent interview with CNN, the Amazon chief revealed his intention to donate the majority of his wealth to fight climate change and simultaneously unify humanity. Quite when the 58-year-old plans to cut the cheque, however, nobody knows.

It’s a hugely surprising development and many are rightly dubious, given the lack of any real details thus far.

Over recent years, critics have constantly jabbed at Bezos for not signing the Giving Pledge, a promise made by hundreds of the world’s wealthiest figures to donate more than half of their financial empires to charitable causes.

If we’re giving him the benefit of the doubt, this latest development would suggest that Bezos had always planned to distribute his fortune, but perhaps just on his own terms. I may be generalising, but Silicon Valley billionaires typically don’t like being told what to do.

It’s also worth mentioning, to his credit, that Bezos has delved into philanthropy already. Around 8% of his net worth – or €10bn – is being contributed annually for 10 years as part of the Bezos Earth Fund. Meanwhile, Amazon is striving to go net zero with all production by 2040.

Ecologically speaking, Bezos’ donations thus far have gone into projects related to carbon neutral building products, firms that bring climate risks into financial investment discussions, advancing data on how we track carbon emissions, and building plant-based carbon sinks on a large scale.

During the CNN interview where these latest revelations were gleaned, Bezos was boldly asked whether he intends to donate most of his wealth within his lifetime. He calmly responded: ‘Yeah, I do.’ What a soundbite.

‘Philanthropy is really hard,’ he went on to state, but claimed that he’s ‘building the capacity to be able to give away this money.’ The rest of the 20-minute slot focused on space exploration and his political views, which we’re frankly far less concerned with.

The prospect of such sizable wealth being funnelled into climate change solutions from the private sector is incredibly exciting, whether you believe it’s legit or merely an exercise in PR, however, is a different point entirely.

As COP27 has confirmed (like we didn’t already know), the most important detail of any climate negotiations is to ratify when and where funding will be mobilised.

Any hope of helping the Global South adapt to drastic climate changes, sequestering 10 gigatons of existing emissions a year, or transitioning towards renewable energy on a wide scale will require continued investment in the tens-of-trillions.

Yet, today in Sharm El Sheikh, all we’re hearing is that nations can’t agree on terms to release funding now. It’s a familiar story that gets no less painful over time.