“We’re in the Money” was a popular tune that caught the spirit of the last century’s Roaring Twenties. Now, one hundred years later, environmental groups can sing the same song — thanks to Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world.
Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post, has announced that he is giving $793 million to 16 environmental groups to fight climate change and undertake other activities to save the planet. The largess comes from Bezos’s Earth Fund and is, he says, “just the beginning of my $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and others.”
More than half of the donations are going to established, already well-funded green groups, with $100 million grants each going to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Nature Conservancy (TNC), the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Groups purporting to be battling climate change aren’t the only ones getting the loot. Bezos is also turning his attention to “environmental justice,” and groups cashing in include the lesser-known Dream Corps’ Green for All, the Hive Fund for Climate and Gender and Justice, and the Solutions Project.
Target: Natural Gas
With natural gas having displaced coal as America’s leading source of electricity, environmentalists now plan to join hands with the incoming Biden administration to go after the fossil fuel, citing its alleged effect on the climate. And Bezos’s money will be used in a variety of projects to demonize natural gas. Manhattan-based EDF, whose annual budget is a stately $230 million, will pocket an additional $100 million from Bezos over the next three years. Most of that money will fund a satellite EDF plans to have put in orbit to monitor methane emissions.
“Thanks to this and other funding, we will cut methane pollution from the oil and gas industry by 45 percent by 2025, which will be the same 20-year benefit of closing a third of the world’s power plants,” longtime EDF head Fred Krupp assured the Washington Post (Nov.17). “Solving the climate crisis involves investments in a wide segment of solutions,” Krupp, whose organization would be a recipient of such investments, went on. “The obstacle isn’t finding solutions; it is securing the funding to scale solutions quickly. Our hope is that this gift encourages other philanthropists to support climate solutions on the scale needed.”
Washington, D.C.-based WWI is also getting into the satellite business. It plans to use its $100 million from Bezos to develop a satellite-powered land-use and carbon-emissions monitoring system that will focus on emissions’ impact on forests, grasslands, wetlands, and agriculture. WWI also wants to use some of the money to convert 450,000 school buses to all-electric power systems by 2030.
WWF, whose U.S. affiliate has an annual budget of about $300 million and whose global budget comes to $900 million a year, wants to use the Bezos cash to—raise more money. It plans to leverage its $100 million grant from Bezos to extract another $850 million from its “global partners,” including investors, foundations, and governments.
The Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, which will have to make do with a paltry $10 million, will use the money for a project to decarbonize buildings, with the goal of stopping the burning of natural gas in heaters, stoves, and boilers.
Other beneficiaries of Bezos’s Earth Fund include, according to the Post, the Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, $43 million; ClimateWorks Foundation, $50 million; Eden Reforestation Projects, $5 million; Energy Foundation, $30 million; the Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, $43 million; NDN Collective, $12 million; Salk Institute for Biological Studies, $30 million; the Solutions Project, $43 million; and the Union of Concerned Scientists, $15 million.
“We’ve Only Just Begun”
And remember: This is just the first tranche of Bezos’s donations to the greens. He has another $9.2 billion to pass out. With his fabulous wealth, Bezos has far eclipsed earlier celebrity benefactors of environmental causes such as CNN founder Ted Turner – once lovingly referred to by environmentalists as “Daddy Greenbucks” – and the late actor Paul Newman.
Many of the groups receiving Bezos’s money are little more than fronts for powerful corporate interests intent on profiting from the transformation from fossil-fuel-based energy to renewable energy. The Biden administration will use the climate to justify regulations on any activity deemed out of step with green orthodoxy. Flush with Bezos’s cash, environmental activists will make common cause with the Biden White House by launching lawsuits and disseminating propaganda to their hearts’ content.