The world’s fourth-largest company run by the richest person on the planet has seeded a US$2 billion fund to help turn back the tide of climate change.
In a release last week, Amazon said the new Climate Pledge fund would back “visionary companies whose products and services will facilitate the transition to a zero carbon economy”.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, said the new venture vehicle would “look to invest in the visionary entrepreneurs and innovators who are building products and services to help companies reduce their carbon impact and operate more sustainably”.
“Companies from around the world of all sizes and stages will be considered, from pre-product startups to well-established enterprises,” Bezos said in the 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.”
According to the release, the new fund would invest across a wide range of countries and industries including transport, logistics, manufacturing, materials, food, agriculture and “the circular economy”.
“The scope of The Climate Pledge Fund is global and will consider investments in companies developing products or services that reduce carbon emissions and help preserve the natural world,” the Amazon website says. “We’re accepting indications of interest now via The Climate Pledge Fund email.”
Ultimately, the new fund would look to attract more capital from other signatories to The Climate Pledge, the statement says.
The fund launch follows Amazon’s establishment last year of The Climate Pledge in association with Global Optimism, an activist organisation formed in 2019 by two former UN leaders instrumental in forging the Paris Agreement.
Companies that sign up to The Climate Pledge commit to hitting a net zero carbon target for their respective organisations by 2040. Since Amazon signed on, four other large companies – Verizon, Reckitt Benckiser and Infosys – have added their names to The Climate Pledge.
Amazon is already well ahead of schedule in meeting its sustainability targets, the company says.
In March, Forbes magazine ranked Bezos as the world’s richest person for the third year in a row despite giving away at least US$36 billion to his ex-wife in the most-expensive divorce of all time. He had a net worth of some US$113 billion in March, Forbes says.
Income inequality along with climate change ranked among the top five “global issues to watch” by the United Nations.
While the current COVID-19 economic shock could exacerbate wealth inequities, Forbes says that the “richest people on Earth are not immune to the coronavirus”.
“As the pandemic tightened its grip on Europe and America, global equity markets imploded, tanking many fortunes. As of March 18, when we finalized this list, Forbes counted 2,095 billionaires, 58 fewer than a year ago and 226 fewer than just 12 days earlier, when we initially calculated these net worths,” the Forbes report says. “Of the billionaires who remain, 51% are poorer than they were last year. In raw terms, the world’s billionaires are worth $8 trillion, down $700 billion from 2019.”