Bezos Pours Earth Fund Grants Into Commercial Truck Electrification, Clean Energy
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person, is giving nearly US$800 million to 16 environmental groups in the first donations from his $10 billion Earth Fund to advance what Bezos calls "needle-moving solutions" to the climate crisis. Millions of the Earth Fund grant dollars will go to four groups to fund projects that support the electrification and decarbonization of transportation.
"I’ve spent the past several months learning from a group of incredibly smart people who’ve made it their life’s work to fight climate change and its impact on communities around the world, Bezos posted on Instagram November 16 announcing the grants." "I’m inspired by what they’re doing, and excited to help them scale."
"THIS $791 MILLION IN DONATIONS IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF MY $10 BILLION COMMITMENT TO FUND SCIENTISTS, ACTIVISTS, NGOs AND OTHERS,” DECLARED BEZOS.
"We can all protect Earth’s future by taking bold action now,” he said.
World Resources Institute
The World Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries and based in Washington, DC will receive a $100 million grant from the Earth Fund over five years. WRI will use this money to develop a satellite-based monitoring system to advance natural climate solutions around the world. The system will monitor carbon emissions and capture potentially harmful changes to the world’s forests, grasslands, wetlands, and other critical areas.
WRI will use the funding to jumpstart the electrification of U.S. school buses by 2030 - over 450,000 vehicles in total - bringing cleaner air and fewer carbon emissions to communities across the country and expanding infrastructure to increase the uptake of electric vehicles nationwide.
Shifting to electric buses powered by clean energy will bring many benefits to society, including creating jobs, cutting emissions, and reducing air pollution, which disproportionately affects poor communities and communities of color, WRI says.
WRI points out that although climate change is an urgent and daunting challenge, less than two percent of global philanthropic gifts given today are directed to address to the climate crisis.
Thanking the Earth Fund, World Resources Institute President and CEO Dr. Andrew Steer said, "Building on our expertise and bringing together many partners, we will use these resources to accelerate transformative shifts in monitoring land use and carbon emissions and electrifying vehicles. These initiatives will cut emissions, create a healthier environment, spur economic opportunities, and improve the lives of millions of people in the United States and around the world."
The ClimateWorks Foundation, a global platform for climate philanthropy based in San Francisco, will receive a $50 million grant from the Bezos Earth Fund to support large-scale reductions in climate pollution and protect the health of people around the world.
ClimateWorks will use the gift to drive climate action in the transportation and industrial sectors, which combined generate half of all global greenhouse-gas emissions.
This project is a key piece of ClimateWorks’ global strategy to accelerate zero-emission road transport. The group will help countries transition to zero-emission trucks and ships by advancing research and technological innovation and strengthening public policy support. The funding will also be used to help expand the global market for climate-safe cement and steel.
"We’re delighted by this award and appreciate the Bezos Earth Fund’s contribution to climate philanthropy," said ClimateWorks President and CEO Charlotte Pera. "This generous grant will provide vital support for our work to accelerate climate solutions that improve people’s lives."
COMMERCIAL TRUCKS, THE LIFEBLOOD OF OUR GLOBAL GOODS MOVEMENT SYSTEM, ALSO PRODUCE ABOUT ONE-THIRD OF GLOBAL TRANSPORT CLIMATE POLLUTION AND A SHARE OF THE AIR POLLUTION THAT DAMAGES HUMAN HEALTH.
This project will leverage advances in battery technologies and the policy precedent recently set by California to catalyze a transition to zero-emission commercial trucks through corporate leadership and smart government policy.
Union of Concerned Scientists
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a nonprofit science advocacy organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will receive a two-year $15 million grant from the Earth Fund.
Part of this funding will support UCS efforts to accelerate the electrification of commercial trucking. Trucks and buses combined make up only 10 percent of all vehicles on U.S. roads but 28 percent of the carbon emissions from on-road transportation, says UCS.
Heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for 45 percent of smog-forming nitrogen oxides and more than 57 percent of fine particulate matter pollution from on-road vehicles. This pollution unfairly burdens communities of color and low-income communities often located near roads and vehicle traffic.
"Breaking down barriers to truck electrification is essential if we are to address dangerous air pollution that plagues communities along high-traffic corridors and meet the net-zero carbon emissions target necessary to tackle climate change," said Michelle Robinson, director of the Clean Transportation Program at UCS.
"Scaling up truck electrification is closely tied to electric grid reform, as grid managers will need to plan for the charging infrastructure to accommodate the electricity demand from electric trucks," said Robinson. "Focusing on grid modernization and truck electrification together is a strategic investment in improving air quality and making rapid progress on climate solutions."
UCS will use part of the grant money to advocate for updates to the U.S. electrical grid to speed the amount of wind, solar, and energy storage used in key states. Renewable energy is now the cheapest energy to build in many parts of the country.
Rocky Mountain Institute
From Boulder, Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) announced that it will receive a $10 million grant from the Bezos Earth Fund to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. buildings and also in the energy-intensive industrial and transport sectors.
Twenty percent of the grant, or $2 million, will allow RMI and its partners to jumpstart efforts aimed at supercharging industrial decarbonization over the next 10 years across the energy-intensive global industries representing 30 percent of global emissions: aviation, shipping, heavy road transport, aluminum, steel, chemical and cement.
RMI’s Carbon-Free Buildings campaign will receive $8 million. The project will focus on making all U.S. buildings carbon-free by 2040 by advocating for all-electric new construction and retrofitting existing homes and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.
"Addressing the climate crisis can start with the places we hold most dear - the buildings where we live and work - while also decarbonizing the way we produce and transport the materials that are the foundation of those buildings, as well as the backbone of our global economy, like steel and cement." said Rocky Mountain Institute CEO Jules Kortenhorst. "The Bezos Earth Fund commitment is an important catalyst to accelerating the impact needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030."
Sources: Statements from Jeff Bezos, World Resources Institute, ClimateWorks Foundation, Union of Concerned Scientists, Rocky Mountain Institute