Bezos climate fund provides first round of grants worth $791m

The groups receiving donations from the fund include groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Fund

Jeff Bezos, the founder and largest shareholder of Amazon, launched a climate fund in February. Chip Somodevilla / AFP
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Jeff Bezos has announced the first grant recipients from $10 billion pledged to combat climate change, earmarking $791 million for donations to environmental organisations.

The first 16 groups receiving donations from the founder’s Bezos Earth Fund include nonprofit stalwarts such as the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Fund. The announcement came on Monday in an Instagram post, where Mr Bezos also revealed the fund’s existence in February. At the time, he said it would begin issuing grants in the summer.

Contributions, detailed in press releases by some recipients, include $10m for the Rocky Mountain Institute’s work reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and $100m each to the EDF, WWF and World Resources Institute.

Mr Bezos, the world’s richest person, had been criticised for a paltry philanthropic record before ramping up his contributions in recent years. His company, meanwhile, faced a revolt from employees who said Amazon had been slow to address its impact on climate change.

The world’s largest online retailer has since announced plans to eliminate and offset its contribution to greenhouse gases warming the planet.

Technology giants have pivoted to focus on sustainability after mounting pressure from activists to reduce their emissions. Microsoft, one of Amazon's cloud computing rivals, said it would invest up to $1bn to back technology that could help remove carbon from the earth's atmosphere.

Many companies have also joined Amazon in The Climate Pledge programme, which pledges to meet the Paris Agreement goals 10 years before they are due.