Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced the first recipients of his personal $10 billion Earth Fund, including 16 environmental, advocacy and research organizations. The Salk Institute, based in La Jolla, will receive $30 million for climate change research.

Bezos said in an Instagram post that “the $791 million in donations is just the beginning of my $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and others.”

“We can all protect Earth’s future by taking bold action now,” he added. He launched The Earth Fund in February in an effort to address the effects of climate change and provide funds to others as they attempt to “preserve and protect the natural world.”

Amazon has been widely criticized by some of its employees and others for its own carbon footprint. Earlier this year, the online shopping giant said its carbon footprint rose to 51.17 million metric tons in 2019, a 15% increase from the 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted in 2018.  

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The Salk Institute will deploy its $30 million from the Bezos Earth Fund for its Harnessing Plants Initiative (HPI). Researchers are working to increase the ability of crop plants, such as corn and soybeans, to capture and store more atmospheric carbon via their roots in the soil.

“Plants have immense potential to remove excess carbon from Earth’s atmosphere to help respond to our warming planet,” the Salk Institute noted in a release.

This work will explore carbon-sequestration mechanisms in six of the world’s most prevalent crop species with the goal of increasing the plants’ carbon-storage capacity. It complements an ongoing HPI project focused on identifying genes for increased carbon sequestration in model plants and then utilizing those genes to enhance carbon sequestration in crops, according to Salk.

“The Bezos Earth Fund’s generous donation will help realize an exciting new HPI research program that significantly increases our scientific efforts towards the ultimate goal of utilizing crop plants to mitigate the effects of climate change,” says Salk President and Professor Rusty Gage.

Other recipients of the first round of investments from the Earth Fund include:

  • The Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, $43 million grant
  • ClimateWorks Foundation, $50 million grant
  • Dream Corps Green for All, $10 million grant
  • Eden Reforestation Projects, $5 million grant
  • Energy Foundation, $30 million grant
  • Environmental Defense Fund, $100 million grant
  • The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, $43 million grant
  • Natural Resources Defense Council, $100 million grant
  • The Nature Conservancy, $100 million grant
  • NDN Collective, $12 million grant
  • Rocky Mountain Institute, $10 million grant
  • The Solutions Project, $43 million grant
  • Union of Concerned Scientists, $15 million grant
  • World Resources Institute, $100 million grant
  • World Wildlife Fund, $100 million grant

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