Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon and the world’s second richest person, took the stage Tuesday at the UN climate conference COP26 to pledge $2 billion toward nature conservation and transforming food systems.
“We must conserve what we still have, we must restore what we’ve lost, and we must grow what we need to live without degrading the planet for future generations to come,” Bezos said at the conference in Glasgow, leaving out many details of how the money from his Bezos Earth Fund will be spent.
The latest pledge comes after Bezos announced a $1 billion donation in September from the Earth Fund — to which he committed $10 billion last year — to focus on conservation efforts. Bezos has said he wants the two donations to meet their objectives by 2030.
In his speech at COP26, Bezos referenced his July flight to space aboard his Blue Origin rocket, which has been the target of critics who say he ought to spend more of his fortune on protecting the Earth than on space travel.
“Looking back at earth from up there the atmosphere seems so thin, the world so finite and so fragile,” Bezos said.
“We must all stand together to protect our world. Climate change gives us a powerful reason to invest in nature.”
Still, although $2 billion is a good deal of money to mere mortals, it’s about 1 percent of his net worth, which Bloomberg pegs just shy of $200 billion.
At next year’s conference, Bezos said his fund hopes to discuss “a concerted strategy led by African nations to seriously and effectively ramp up support for restoration on the continent.”
He added that private companies will continue to play an important role in the fight against climate change.
“We cannot rely only on governments, philanthropy, and NGOs to fix the climate crisis. The private sector also has to play its part. Companies need to take leadership positions,” he said.
Other global philanthropies, including the Rockefeller and Ikea foundations, announced a separate plan to create a Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, which would help fund the energy transition in poorer countries.
The organization will start with $10 billion to support the transition to renewable energy on a global scale. It will seek to support countries and industries where private money has so far shied away from for various reasons.
The Bezos Earth Fund said that it will give $500 million to the initiative.
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