On Monday, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos introduced his Earth Fund’s latest round of grants: $443 million to be spent totally on land conservation and restoration and efforts to cut back environmental burdens on marginalized communities.
This yr, the fund has pledged greater than $3 billion for comparable initiatives. In 2020, Bezos promised to funnel $10 billion — about 5 % of his present internet price — towards tackling local weather change this decade.
From the start, the Bezos Earth Fund has confronted criticism, significantly from some grassroots environmental teams. At first, Bezos primarily funded big-name environmental groups with traditionally white management and relatively massive budgets moderately than supporting extra Indigenous and folks of color-led neighborhood teams, critics pointed out. Different criticisms targeted on how Amazon, the e-commerce large Bezos based, continues to pollute neighborhoods and emit rising ranges of greenhouse gases.
Since that early backlash, environmental justice — a motion to cease air pollution and environmental degradation from disproportionately harming low-income neighborhoods, communities of shade, and different susceptible teams — has develop into a much bigger a part of the Bezos Earth Fund’s messaging. The fund’s newest spherical of funding units apart $130 million for 19 totally different organizations doing “doing critical climate justice work.” It follows one other $150 million pledged to local weather justice teams in September.
The $130 million for environmental justice on this newest spherical of funding is meant to help the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative. Shortly after moving into workplace in January, Biden created the initiative via an executive order to be sure that “deprived communities” obtain 40 % of the “general advantages” of federal investments in clear vitality and local weather motion.
Bezos’ grantees embody a variety of teams that both collect knowledge to tell policymaking, assist underserved communities develop into extra resilient to local weather change, help tribes and Native communities, or plan to create coaching applications for the Justice40 initiative. For instance, GRID Options, a nonprofit that works to extend entry to solar energy, will get $12 million for its Tribal Photo voltaic Accelerator Fund.
The newest funding announcement additionally consists of $261 million allotted to the international initiative to preserve 30 % of Earth’s lands and oceans by 2030. That may concentrate on creating, increasing, and monitoring so-called “protected areas” — principally within the Congo Basin and Tropical Andes. Based on the Bezos Earth Fund, the grants will create 11 million hectares of newly protected areas within the Congo Basin, the place 70 % of Africa’s forests are situated. Within the Tropical Andes, one other essential carbon sink for the planet, the grants will convert an estimated 48 million hectares into protected areas.
Forests and different ecosystems are extraordinarily essential within the combat in opposition to local weather change as a result of they entice and retailer carbon dioxide, protecting it out of the environment. However the institution of recent protected areas, particularly when not fastidiously applied, can actually harm local communities. There’s a documented history of conservation efforts forcing Indigenous peoples off their lands to create nationwide parks. The World Wildlife Fund, which is amongst Bezos’ grantees, was not too long ago accused of failing to take duty for human rights abuses throughout a US Congressional hearing. That adopted a Buzzfeed Information investigation in 2019 that discovered that WWF-funded park rangers had been accused of homicide, torture, and rape.
The Bezos Earth Fund says the newly protected areas will assist “safe” native communities’ rights to 24 million hectares of land. It’s additionally spending a further $25 million to kick off a brand new form of “international mechanism” that would safe “help” for Indigenous peoples and native communities. Forests have tended to fare higher underneath their care, research reveals. There’s additionally a further $51 million to revive landscapes within the US and Africa.
Nearer to residence for Bezos, Amazon was implicated in a latest report as enjoying an “outsized” role in port congestion and related delivery air pollution alongside the west coast of the US. And regardless of Amazon’s commitments to deal with local weather change, the corporate’s carbon footprint grew by nearly 20 percent in 2020.