Forbesbillionaires, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Stbi, Sergey Brin, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Bernarnd Arnault

Forbesbillionaires, Elon Musk

What The World's Richest People Are Doing To Fight Climate Change

Here's what the world's richest people are doing to fight climate change: #ForbesBillionaires

4/22/2021 8:12:00 PM

Here's what the world's richest people are doing to fight climate change: ForbesBillionaires

The ten richest people in the world have outsized influence in addressing the global sustainability challenge. Here, a deep dive into their deep pockets and the steps they’re taking.

Chesnot/Getty Images, Michael Prince for Forbes, Britta Pedersen Pool/Getty ImagesThe world’s wealthiest people have never been richer, and their carbon footprint has expanded as a consequence. Some of the very richest are actively engaged in fighting climate change, while others, not so much. 

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A recentUN reportfound that  the richest 1% of the world population account for 15% of emissions. “The wealthy bear the greatest responsibility in this area,” the report found, referring to changes in consumer behavior prioritizing low-carbon consumption. “This elite will need to reduce their footprint by a factor of 30 to stay in line with the Paris Agreement targets,” it added.

So what are the richest of the rich, the top 10 wealthiest individuals in the world, doing through either their personal or corporate influence to help the world avoid the worst consequences of climate change? It’s a mixed picture. While Jeff Bezos has made big pledges—$10 billion to the climate and billions of dollars to be spent by Amazon to reduce its carbon footprint —he’s only just begun to make headway on those. Bill Gates is heavily engaged in the topic, having written a book called

How To Avoid A Climate Disasterwhich was published in February. Tesla CEO Elon Musk arguably spurred many other automakers to start making electric cars and is well known for his statements on climate change. Warren Buffett remains opposed to climate risk disclosure at Berkshire Hathaway. 

Their businesses are more likely to make public pledges to sustainability than they have personally expressed. Several have signed on to theScience Based Targets initiative(SBTi), a coalition of international organizations such as the United Nations Global Compass that supports and independently assesses business commitments to set net-zero carbon targets. Meeting such targets would prevent a global temperature increase of more than 1.5 Celsius, experts predict. The SBTi has set two deadlines: first, halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, followed by hitting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Companies have two years to submit their targets once they commit to the SBTi.

These billionaires’ other investments, philanthropic initiatives and personal opinions complete the picture of what their commitments to sustainability and a carbon neutral future looks like. Here, a look at the world’s 10 richest people from this perspective. (Net worths are as of April 21, 2021)

#1 Jeff BezosJeff Bezos (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon)Getty Images for Moet & ChandonNet Worth: $194.4 billionSource Of Wealth: AmazonSBTi commitment? Yes, but no targets submitted yet. Amazon launched its own initiative, The Climate Pledge, with

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The richest person on the planet has made no shortage of pledges to tackling climate change in recent years, be it Amazon’s Climate Pledge, cofounded with the Global Optimism group, or his own Bezos Earth Fund. The Climate Pledge, which has been signed by

104 other corporationsso far, aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Amazon also set up a $2 billion Climate Fund to invest in new technologies needed to build a zero-carbon economy. The company claims to be the world’s largest buyer of renewable energy, and it set up internal targets like deploying 100,000 electric vehicles for its deliveries by 2030 and supporting carbon reducing technologies in cloud computing, but its sustainability targets have not been submitted to other umbrella organizations like the SBTi, to which it has committed in May 2020.

Amazon’s latest sustainability report, dated June 2020, offers a glimpse of the size of the carbon emission challenge the e-commerce behemoth is facing: as the company kept growing in 2019 (revenue grew 22%), so did its carbon footprint (by 15%). Amazon chooses a different metric to define its footprint, called “carbon intensity,” which measures the carbon dioxide equivalent associated with each dollar of Gross Merchandise Sales. Amazon says its carbon intensity metric in 2019 was down 5% compared to 2018. “Emissions intensity can be useful to try and show progress on climate action even where a business is expanding,” Dave Reay, professor of carbon management and education at the University of Edinburgh tells

Forbes, adding: “But it can also be used to hide inaction and ultimately all that counts is what our atmosphere sees: less carbon or more carbon globally.”On a personal level, Bezos joined some 20 high-profile investors led by Bill Gates in launching Breakthrough Energy Ventures in 2016, which was set up with the goal of investing at least $1 billion in  companies developing new zero-emissions technologies. Bezos announced the $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund last year, revealing in November that he had given

16 groups working on climate changea total $790 million in donations—about 0.4% of his current $194.4 billion net worth. The five groups that received the largest chunks of donations ($100 million each) are well established nonprofits working in the sustainability and environment sectors: the World Wildlife Fund, the World Resource Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund.

#2 Bernard ArnaultChairman and Chief Executive of LVMH Bernard Arnault (Photo by ERIC PIERMONT/AFP via Getty Images)AFP via Getty ImagesSource Of Wealth: LVMHSBTi commitment? Yes, February 2020, no targets set.Arnault is the king of luxury, having built an empire of 75 brands at LVMH, from Louis Vuitton to Givenchy, encompassing jewelry, fashion, drinks, cosmetics, and even a yacht manufacturer—all sectors facing complex sustainability challenges. 

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The Iranian-American Teen Making Climate Information Accessible In the Middle EastSophia Kianni translates the world's most important climate change documents into Farsi.

The Iranian-American Teen Making Climate Information Accessible In the Middle EastSophia Kianni translates the world's most important climate change documents into Farsi.

The Iranian-American Teen Making Climate Information Accessible In the Middle EastSophia Kianni translates the world's most important climate change documents into Farsi. 🥰 SophiaKianni Congratulations sophia. Great job!