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Amazon launches $2B investment fund focused on fighting carbon emissions

The new Climate Pledge Fund is part of Amazon's expanding efforts to stave off climate change.

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- 02:25
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Jeff Bezos at his Climate Pledge announcement last year.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Amazon is kicking in $2 billion to support its broadening efforts to fight climate change.

The online retailer on Tuesday said it's started the new Climate Pledge Fund, a venture capital fund that'll invest in companies that develop ways to reduce carbon emissions. 

"Companies from around the world of all sizes and stages will be considered, from pre-product startups to well-established enterprises," Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos said in a statement. "Each prospective investment will be judged on its potential to accelerate the path to zero carbon and help protect the planet for future generations."

The new fund is part of Amazon's widening ambitions to expand its green initiatives, with Bezos in September unveiling his company's Climate Pledge, an array of programs with the overarching goal of making Amazon net zero carbon by 2040. This month, Amazon got its first group of signatories to join the pledge: Verizon, Infosys and Reckitt Benckiser.

Net zero carbon doesn't mean Amazon and these other companies will stop emitting carbon altogether; instead it means they'll remove as much carbon from the environment as they release.

Amazon, though, still has plenty of work to do to reach its goals. The company on Tuesday reported that its carbon footprint increased 15% last year to 51.17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Added to Amazon's work, Bezos in February unveiled the Bezos Earth Fund, with $10 billion in funding, to protect the environment.

The company's many efforts on climate change come as one of its most vocal activist employee groups, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, has pushed for these efforts. The group continues to call for Amazon to cut ties with fossil fuel companies, a move Amazon hasn't done.

To reach Amazon's carbon-neutral goal, Bezos in September announced a new $100 million reforestation effort and a new order for 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian to move away from diesel vehicles. Amazon also pledged to power its global infrastructure with 80% renewable energy by 2024 and 100% by 2030 -- up from the 40% renewable energy it used in September. 

On Tuesday, Amazon said it's now on a path to reach 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of schedule, thanks to its 31 utility-scale wind and solar projects and 60 solar rooftops on its buildings across the global.

The Climate Pledge Fund plans to invest in companies across a variety of industries, from food and agriculture to energy generation to transportation. Amazon said it'll look into getting other Climate Pledge signatories involved in the new fund.