After facing criticism about its environmental record in recent years, Amazon is launching a new $2 billion venture capital fund—as part of its “Climate Pledge” announced last September—that will invest in clean energy and other technologies to reduce the impact of climate change, The Wall Street Journal first reported.
- Amazon’s carbon footprint increased last year but on Tuesday the Seattle-based tech firm announced plans for an internal Climate Pledge Fund that will invest in companies across a range of different industries, including transportation, energy, battery storage, manufacturing and food and agriculture.
- The fund is part of Amazon’s “Climate Pledge,” which was first introduced by CEO Jeff Bezos last September, with the goal of getting the company to “net zero” carbon emissions by 2040.
-As part of that promise, the company also hopes to meet the carbon-reduction goals of the Paris Climate Agreement by 2040, ten years ahead of schedule; President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement back in 2017.
- Amazon said while its net sales increased 22% in 2019, its total carbon footprint increased 15% during the same period.
- The new Climate Pledge Fund will “support the development of sustainable and decarbonizing technologies” by investing in “visionary companies whose products and solutions will facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Amazon said in a statement.
- Amazon described the fund’s $2 billion as “initial” funding that could grow over time, though the company didn’t provide details on a time horizon for the investments.
- The company also announced Tuesday that it expects to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025—five years ahead of schedule (the Climate Pledge stated it would do so by 2030).
“Companies from around the world of all sizes and stages will be considered, from pre-product startups to well-established enterprises,” 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.”
Amazon and Bezos have faced criticism in the past over sustainability and climate change policies. Amazon, which delivers over 1 billion packages per year, has subsequently been criticized for its vast carbon l footprint. Last year, the company faced mounting pressure from its employees, thousands of whom submitted a proposal asking Bezos to develop a comprehensive climate change plan. Since then, the company has been ramping up its efforts: In February, for instance, Bezos pledged $10 billion—nearly 10% of his own fortune at the time—toward a new “Earth Fund” that will issue grants to scientists and other organizations hoping to “preserve and protect” the natural world.
BIG NUMBER: $165 BILLION
Bezos is the world’s richest person, with a net worth of $165.2 billion, according to Forbes. He holds an 11% stake in Amazon, which he founded in 1994, as well as owns the Washington Post.