Jeff Bezos masks destructive practices with promise to ‘go green’


Seattle City Council / Wiki Commons

As of 2020, Bezos has a net worth of $127.7 billion, according to Business Insider. A $10 billion donation only accounts for approximately 7.8% of Bezos’ fortune.

Last week, the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, announced a $10 billion plan to fight climate change that will “fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” It went on, saying the effort will require “collective action from big companies, small companies, nation-states, global organizations, and individuals.” 

Kudos to Bezos for acknowledging climate change, but his plan is really more of a public relations stunt than anything else. In 2018 alone, Bezos’ company, Amazon, emitted some 44.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, making it one of the world’s single biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.  

What’s often overlooked by the public is the sheer scale of electricity consumed by Amazon along with other tech giants such as Microsoft, Alphabet, Apple and Facebook. These five companies together use roughly 33 terawatt-hours of electricity every year. To put this in context, that’s more than the country of Denmark consumes in one year

Of these five companies, Amazon leads the way in terms of consumption given that it owns Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world’s biggest cloud-computing company. AWS controls about half of the global cloud-computing business. The company’s servers take care of the data needs of thousands of companies such as Netflix, GE and Airbnb. In terms of scale, Amazon appears to have a massive monopoly on the tech world. 

Why do these facts matter? Amazon claims on its website that it’s committed to “using 100% renewable energy,” but exactly how this will be accomplished has never been shared with the public. It’s also noteworthy to mention that Amazon hasn’t fully disclosed its electricity consumption, nor are there any signs that it will do so in the near future. In a nutshell, the reality of solving climate change is far more broad and complex than people like to believe. The majority of people seem to like the idea of fighting climate change much more than the reality of it. Everyone likes to protest using “dirty energy,” yet we’re all dependent on electricity to live in the first world. Bezos’ announcement is simply virtue signaling to the public to improve his image. He wants to be another wealthy leader of the movement to save the planet from the doomsday outcome, when in reality, his company is leading the way for the opposite. Bezos’ announcement about taking action vaguely resembles Leonardo Dicaprio claiming he’ll fly around the world in his G6 to raise awareness about the dangers of climate change. The irony is painful. Ultimately, Bezos is just another bandwagoner of the 0.0001% — one of the ultra-wealthy class who wants to promote “clean” energy so they can feel better about themselves.