Amazon founder is donating $791m to green charities but it will take more than money to help the planet
If you had a billion dollars and wanted to do something about climate change, what would you do? For a handful of people, that is not a rhetorical question. An Instagram post earlier this month from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — announcing he had scattered $791m across various climate charities — is the latest in a trend that includes Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg. And there’s more on the way — Bezos’s donations are “just the beginning” of his $10bn Bezos Earth Fund.
But the interesting thing about this exercise is that, even for the most privileged minds on the planet, it is not obvious how to approach the task. Is it better to invest in technologies that may take years to mature — or to spend money on clean energy in developing countries, which can cut pollution immediately? Or perhaps political spending is the most effective approach, to push policy in a climate-friendly direction? Or would you just start building sea walls to prepare for the inevitable?
Each billionaire takes their own tack. Gates has gone down the technology route, backing projects that range from nuclear fusion to molten-salt batteries. He has also invested his time in writing and talking about the subject, and has a book on climate change coming out next year. Bloomberg has focused on the political side, including spending more than $170m on a campaign to close coal-fired power plants; its success is part of the reason US carbon emissions have fallen in recent years.