Jeff Bezos' climate fund pledges $1 billion to conservation efforts

Pledge aims to protect 30% of land and sea from mass extinctions and climate change by 2030.

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos discussing climate change in 2019.

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The Bezos Earth Fund on Monday pledged $1 billion to help protect vulnerable nature and Indigenous peoples around the world, with an initial focus on the Congo Basin, the tropical Andes and the tropical Pacific Ocean. The goal of the $1 billion pledge is protect 30% of land and sea from mass extinctions and climate change by 2030. 

The commitment is the largest to date from the $10 billion fund, which Amazon founder Jeff Bezos launched last year to fight climate change. Disbursements will begin this year, with an emphasis on regions where there's significant need and opportunity, as well as areas where indigenous peoples play a key role in conservation programs.

"By coming together with the right focus and ingenuity, we can have both the benefits of our modern lives and a thriving natural world," Bezos, one of the world's richest people, said in a statement. "I hope this commitment inspires others to make their own pledges to protect and conserve nature and help in the fight against climate change. A job this big needs many allies."

Bezos, who stepped down as Amazon's chief executive in July, long promoted his company's many climate initiatives over the years. Amazon has funded a network of wind and solar farms as part of a long-term goal of powering its global infrastructure with 100% renewable energy.

But the company has also come under criticism for its contribution to climate change, particularly its growing carbon footprint created by its fleet of airplanes, trucks and vans that deliver packages to Amazon customers. Several Amazon employees have noted that Bezos' September 2019 pledge to make company carbon neutral by 2040 seems unambitious compared with Microsoft's commitment to be carbon negative by 2030.

The fund announced earlier this month it's pledging $203.7 million this year toward the fight against the climate crisis, with the majority going to organizations supporting the Justice40 Initiative, a program from the Biden administration intended to provide benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy efforts to disadvantaged communities.