Last week Jeff Bezos launched the Bezos Earth Fund and committed $10 billion in grants to scientists and activists to fund their efforts to fight climate change.
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.
This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world. We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals. I’m committing $10 billion to start and will begin issuing grants this summer. Earth is the one thing we all have in common — let’s protect it, together.” He announced on his Instagram.
Amazon contributed to 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018 according to their Carbon Footprint report. This does not include the carbon dioxide contributed by the goods sold on Amazon. In the same period Amazon reported $277 billion in gross merchandise volume.
This means for every dollar spent on Amazon, Amazon emits 160 grams of carbon dioxide. Earlier this year, Amazon announced that it will make 50% of all shipments net zero carbon by 2030.
In contrast Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, allocated a mere $ 612 million to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change for the financial year 2020-21. India will emit 4.85 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020 according to the report submitted by India to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. India reported $ 2,972 billion GDP in 2019. This means for every dollar of GDP India emits 1,631 grams of carbon dioxide.
The city of Pune has no allocation to climate protection and emits an estimated 26.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and at an estimated GDP of $ 48 billion emits 554 grams of carbon dioxide per dollar.
Pune’s carbon dioxide emissions, as that of the rest of India’s, have little to do with the government’s efforts. They are the result of the business models of the organizations and government bodies operating in those geographies. The government has done little to nudge these business models to address the climate emergency.
In 1987 The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) had highlighted: “The existence of such agencies (like the Ministry of Environment) gives many governments and their citizens the false impression that these bodies are by themselves able to protect and enhance the environmental resource base.
Those responsible for managing natural resources and protecting the environment are institutionally separated from those responsible for managing the economy. The real world of interlocked economic and ecological systems will not change; the policies and institutions concerned must”. Bezos commitment is the first step of those responsible to take the responsibility to protecting the environment.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that on January 1st, 2018, we had about 420 billion tons of carbon dioxide left to emit to contain the global average rise in temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius.
As we emit an estimated 42 billion tons of carbon dioxide globally, every year, we now have less than 370 billion tons of budget remaining. With today’s emissions levels, we have just about eight years.
Unfortunately, most organizations and governments across the world are not even reporting their carbon emissions, let alone their commitments to reducing the carbon emissions. Despite following up from 2015 with the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, the Chief Minister and Environmental Ministers and their bureaucracy in the state of Maharashtra, and the Local government in various cities, including Pune, there has been no reporting of the carbon emissions or the commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Even government budgets are spent without evaluating projects for their increasing or decreasing the existing carbon emissions. Business as usual continues.
What could Bezos Earth Fund do to make a difference?
First it could set up a reporting portal to help every organization and government to report their carbon emissions. This would enable the organizations and governments to disclose their carbon budgets, the amount of carbon dioxide they will emit in their operations over the coming year.
This will not only help mobilize global action; it will help us to make coordinated efforts to stay within the 370-billion-ton budget we have left.
Second it could support the reporting of carbon dioxide emission capacity of existing business models and in particular the existing infrastructure and processes for the business model to source and deliver their value proposition to their customers and the existing infrastructure and processes to generate revenues and make expenditure. This would help drive a fundamental shift in business models, particularly their infrastructure and processes that emit carbon dioxide, to a reduction in their capacity to emit carbon dioxide.
Will the Bezos Earth Fund inspire Azim Premji, Anand Mahindra, Ratan Tata, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Mukesh Ambani, Uday Kotak, Cyrus Poonawalla, Shiv Nadar, Lakshami Mittal, Rahul Bajaj, Rakesh Jhunjhunwalla, Kiran Muzumdar-Shaw, Adi Godrej, Abhay Firodia, Baba Kalyani, Narayana Murthy, Rahul Bajaj to follow the example and commit to an Earth Fund to enable us to address the climate emergency?
Will they move beyond the short term, to the Short Now, the lifetime of a child born today?
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and/or individuals or organisations quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.
He can be reached @AnupamSaraph