The Earth Fund, Jeff Bezos’s charitable organization, donated nearly half a billion dollars to climate groups this week.
Bezos has faced substantial criticism recently from environmental groups for his space tourism efforts. While Blue Origin’s hydrogen-burning rockets are cleaner than SpaceX’s kerosene-fueled ones, at least at the point of launch, they’re still an emissions nightmare, from their construction to the production of their fuel. They’re estimated to add between 50 to 66 tons of CO2 to the atmosphere per passenger. International passenger jets, for comparison, contribute between 1-3 tons per passenger over the life of the plane.
In consideration of this, Bezos announced on Monday that his Earth Fund is awarding 44 grants to organizations which are focused on nature conservation, climate justice, and tracking global progress towards climate goals. Together, those grants will make up $443 million. This is significant progress towards Bezos’ pledge of donating $10 billion to fight climate change by 2030.
A $140 million grant out of that total is going to President Joe Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which is aimed at alleviating the effects of climate change in disadvantaged communities. $51 million is going to support land and forest restoration in the U.S. and Africa.
“The goal of the Bezos Earth Fund is to support change agents who are seizing the challenges that this decisive decade presents,” Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund, said in a Monday statement. “Through these grants, we are advancing climate justice and the protection of nature, two areas that demand stronger action.”
Last year, the Earth Fund donated $791 million to 16 climate organizations. He says that his philanthropy is partially inspired by his efforts to visit space.
“We live on this beautiful planet. You can’t imagine how thin the atmosphere is when you see it from space,” Bezos said in July. “We live in it, and it looks so big. It feels like, you know, this atmosphere is huge and we can disregard it and treat it poorly. When you get up there and you see it, you see how tiny it is and how fragile it is.”