Contributions Of The World's Richest People To Fight Climate Change  

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Contributions Of The World's Richest People To Fight Climate Change   
19 Sep 2022
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The world has evolved and is continuing to evolve. We are surrounded by technology and have access to items that make our lives easier. However, as humans evolved, we began to disregard nature. This has resulted in major climate change. This rare planet must now be saved. There is no planet B.
Many of the world's wealthiest people are contributing by donating money and investing in causes that address climate change. Here are ten billionaires who have made significant contributions to addressing this issue. Fortunately, these wealthy individuals are aware of the impact their actions are having on the world. So they're all doing their part to save the planet. Despite the gravity of the threat posed by climate change, many top billionaires are resisting or, at best, acting silently. This article will discuss some billionaires and what they are doing to combat climate change.

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The World's Richest People are now richer than ever, and their carbon footprint is growing as a result. While some of the richest people are involved in Fighting Climate Change, others are not.

A recent United Nations report showed that 15% of global emissions are caused by the richest 1%. What are the top 10 wealthiest people in the world doing to reduce the worst effects of climate change?

It's not a perfect picture. Jeff Bezos made huge pledges, including $10 billion for the climate and billions to be spent by Amazon in order to reduce its carbon footprint. Bill Gates has been heavily involved in this topic. He wrote a book called How To Avoid a Climate Disaster which was published in February. Elon Musk , CEO of Tesla, is widely known for his views on climate change and has been a driving force behind many automakers' electric vehicles. Warren Buffett is opposed to Berkshire Hathaway disclosing climate risks.

Their companies are more likely than their personal pledges to sustain sustainability to make public commitments. Many have signed up to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi ), a coalition of international organizations like the United Nations Global Compass which supports and evaluates business commitments to net zero carbon targets. Experts predict that such targets will prevent the world from experiencing a temperature rise of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. SBTi has established two deadlines. The first is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030 and then reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Once companies commit to the SBTi, they have two years to submit their targets.

The billionaires' other investments and philanthropic initiatives, as well as their personal opinions, complete the picture of how they are committed to sustainability and a future that is carbon neutral. This is a view of the 10 Richest People in the world

10 Richest People in the world

1. Jeff Bezos

In recent years, the richest person on earth has made many pledges to combat climate change. These include the Climate Pledge that Amazon co-founded with the Global Optimism organization and his Bezos Earth FundThe Climate Pledge has been signed by 104 corporations to date. It aims to reduce net carbon emissions by 2040. Amazon created a $2 billion Climate Fund, which will invest in new technologies necessary to create a zero-carbon economy. Amazon claims to be the largest purchaser of renewable energy in the world. It has set internal targets such as deploying 100,000 electric cars for its deliveries by 2030 and supporting carbon-reducing technologies within cloud computing. However, its sustainability targets have not yet been submitted to other umbrella organizations like the SBTi to which it committed in May 2020.

Amazon's most recent sustainability report, which was published in June 2020, gives a glimpse at the scale of the carbon emission problem the e-commerce giant is facing. As Amazon continued to grow (revenue increased by 22%), its carbon footprint increased by 15%. Amazon uses a different measure to determine its footprint. It is called "carbon intensity" and measures the carbon dioxide equivalent for each dollar of gross merchandise sales. Amazon claims that its carbon intensity metric for 2019 was 5% lower than in 2018. Amazon claims that its carbon intensity metric in 2019 was down 5% compared to 2018.

Bezos was one of 20 prominent investors who launched Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which was established in 2016 with the goal to invest at least $1B in companies that develop zero-emission technologies. Bezos launched the $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund in 2017. In November, he revealed that he had donated $790 million to 16 organizations working on climate change. This is approximately 0.4% of his $194.4 billion current net worth. The five organizations that received the largest donations (100 million each) were well-established nonprofits in the sustainability and environmental sectors. They are the World Wildlife Fund and The World Resource Institute, The Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Nature Conservancy.

2. Bernard Arnault

Arnault is the king of luxury. He has built an empire of 75 brands for LVMH from Louis Vuitton and Givenchy. This includes jewelry, fashion, cosmetics, and even a yacht maker--all of which are facing complex sustainability challenges.

LVMH speaks often with a single voice in sustainability through its LVMH Initiatives For the Environment program (LIFE), which was renamed "LIFE 360" in December. It set targets like achieving 100% renewable energy usage by 2020 and eliminating all fossil-based virgin packaging by 2026. LVMH promised in 2017 that it would reduce its carbon emissions by 25% by 2020. 

LVMH declined to be a signatory to the Fashion Pact. This Pact is led by Kering and commits its signatories that they will implement the U.N. principles. Fashion Charter: 25% low-impact material sourcing by 2025. 50% renewable energy by 2025. 100% by 2030. Arnault stated that these targets weren't practical for LVMH's business and added "we prefer actions to pacts."

Arnault also has investments in French fashion brand Hermes, and grocery chain Carrefour, both of which are signatories to Kering’s Fashion Pact. Hermes committed to the SBTi in Dec, but has not yet specified its targets. Carrefour also committed to the SBTi and has set targets.

It is not known what Arnault's personal contributions to sustainability and his commitment to it are. A glimpse into Europe's richest man’s attitude towards sustainability was revealed by Arnault's criticism of Greta Thunberg (a teenager climate activist) in 2019. He said that Greta was "surrendering totally to catastrophism" before adding: “I prefer positive solutions that enable us to move towards a more optimistic situation."

3. Elon Musk

Elon Musk was first made a billionaire in 2012 through his shares in Tesla Electric Cars and SolarCity, two companies that provide an alternative to fossil fuels. Musk also used his influence to advocate for a carbon tax (which the U.S. doesn't have) as well as to denounce climate denialism by leaving a White House advisory position following President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The first impact report by Tesla in 2019 outlines its 2017 global carbon emissions. It focuses on how Tesla can save energy and avoid waste, rather than setting goals. Some commentators, such as Bloomberg Opinion contributor David Fickel, have recently criticised for not adequately disclosing its carbon emissions and energy consumption and failing to recognize its growing carbon footprint.

Musk is still focused on carbon removal. Musk pledged $100 million to XPrize in February to fund a four-year competition that opened for entries on April 22 to find solutions to "collectively reach the 10 gigatons per annum carbon removal target by 2030."

Musk and his foundation made the donation. The website contains only an HTML page listing five areas, renewable energy research and advocacy being one.  Musk's philanthropic efforts were well-publicized. Musk claimed that a $38,900 contribution to Republican politicians was 0.5% of his donation to the Sierra Club environmental organization.

4. Bill Gates

Microsoft has set targets for September 2019 to source 100% renewable power by 2030, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of revenue by 30% by 2030. This is a significant improvement on 2017 levels. Microsoft also signed the Amazon Climate Pledge.

Although Gates has lost his position as the world's richest person in recent years he is still one of the most outspoken billionaires around when it comes to climate change investing and philanthropy. He's also the author of a best-selling book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.

Microsoft, the company that made Gates billionaire, has now matched his cofounder's sustainability efforts. It set one of the most ambitious climate targets in the tech world: becoming carbon neutral by 2030. This means removing more carbon than the company creates. Microsoft's goal is to eliminate all carbon emissions from its history by 2050. (Gates left the Microsoft board in March 2020.

In 2015, Gates pledged $2 billion to climate change efforts while world leaders negotiated Paris Agreement. He also rallied other business leaders such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bezos to create the Breakthrough Energie Coalition. The Breakthrough Energy Ventures investment arm, which focuses on zero-carbon technologies, was launched in the following year with a budget of $1 billion. It has invested in 40 companies and raised $1 billion more this January. Gates stated to Forbes earlier this year that he will commit $2 billion to zero-carbon technologies in the next five years.

5. Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook announced that it had reached net zero emissions for both its energy purchases and its own emissions. It also stated that it was working towards a net-zero target for indirect emissions from Facebook's activities by 2030. Facebook stated that it supports Science Based Targets, which it committed to in September but has yet to submit targets.

Facebook's sustainability efforts are centered on renewable energy. Facebook boasted that it was the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in 2019. However, it stated it intends to invest in carbon removal projects and other nature-based solutions.

Facebook's recent efforts in clamping down on misinformation posted on the platform--a U-turn by Zuckerberg who previously refused to play the role of factchecker --will now include climate change through a new section dedicated to debunking climate myths.

Zuckerberg stated that he supported Gates' Breakthrough Energy Coalition in 2015. However, it is not clear how much he contributed. He and his wife Priscilla Chan created The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in 2015, a limited-liability company for advocacy and charitable purposes to which they have pledged 99%.

So far, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has committed just over $2B to different projects. While none of the foundation's areas of focus are specifically focused on climate change, sustainability is a priority for some grant recipients. 

6. Warren Buffett

Buffett's 2015 statement in a letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders about the possibility that climate disasters could boost profits for insurance companies has been viewed as a poor decision by someone who is known as "the Oracle of Omaha". Reinsurers will face a $100 billion hit in 2020 for a series of devastating wildfires, hurricanes, and floods.

Buffett highlighted his company's support for renewable energy in the Paris Agreement letter. Buffett strongly opposed the creation of a report about the risks climate change poses to the company when the proposal was made. Buffett stated that climate change shouldn't be a concern if you only think as a shareholder in a major insurer. 

Buffett has not changed his attitude towards climate change reporting and risk over the past six years. He opposes a new shareholder proposal to make climate change reports. Berkshire's annual proxy file states the board of directors "unanimously favors the vote against the proposal", with Buffett's 2015 email cited as one reason for the opposition.

7. Larry Ellison

Ellison's software company Oracle holds a clear view on sustainability. It proudly declares, "Oracle recognizes sustainable business is good for business," and also displays the sustainability goals of the company. These goals are not yet submitted to SBTi.

Ellison, who was CEO from 2014 to 2014, remained chairman and chief technology officer. His hobbies include sailing and other activities that reflect his sustainability philosophy. In 2018, Ellison launched the SailGP Catamarans Race. It is currently worth $200million. In 2018, Ellison launched the SailGP catamarans race. Ellison's most ambitious venture is to transform the Hawaiian island Lanai (which he purchased in 2012 for $300M) into , a clean energy and wellness utopia. He founded the wellness company Sensei in Lanai. It has launched a $3,000-per-night spa, Sensei Retreat, and solar-powered hydroponic greenhouses, Sensei Farms. Ellison hopes to make the entire island more solar-powered by his farms, which are completely off-grid.

Ellison closed his philanthropic foundation last January. He had spent most of his donations on healthcare and education--his current focus is the Covid-19 pandemic. 

8. Larry page and Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin (R) and Larry Page (L), are the co-founders of Google. Google was founded with the motto "don't do evil" and became one of the world's largest companies. In 2009, Google announced that part of 2008 and 2007 carbon emissions had been offset by purchasing "high quality carbon offsets." Alphabet has become Google's parent company. Alphabet claims that it has been sourcing energy from renewable sources since 2017. Alphabet's latest goal is to operate its campuses and data centers on carbon-free energy 24 hours a day by 2030.

Google founders are open about their commitment to sustainability, even when it causes controversy such as in 2014 when they quit the American Legislative Exchange Council (free market lobbying group) over its links with climate change denial. However, Page and Brin were critic for their secret retreat in Italy, which cost them $29million. Many of their A-list guests, who were invited to discuss climate change, traveled by private jets.

The co-founders of Alphabet have similar business interests but are not related to each other in innovative technologies. Page invested in the recently defunct asteroid mining startup Planetary Resources as well as flying cars companies Kitty Hawk, and Opener. Brin is said to have been active for four years in the secretive LTA Research startup. Its mission is to create hydrogen- and helium-powered airship that can be deployed in disaster zones.

9. Leonardo DiCaprio

Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio is well-known for his environmental activism. He founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998. Its mission is to "help restore balance to endangered ecosystems, ensuring long-term well-being for all Earth's inhabitants". He donated $4 million in July to the Amazon Fires relief effort. In the past, he has made many donations for climate change. His organization actively supports rebuilding ecosystems all over the globe.

10. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is a heiress to L'Oreal Cosmetics and a board member of the top cosmetics company in the world. SBTi commitment? Yes, l'Oreal made a commitment in April 2018 to reduce its greenhouse gas emission by 25% by 2030. This is in addition to reducing its absolute emissions by 100% at its sites by 2025.

The world's richest woman is also among the most publicity-shy--perhaps that's to be expected after she spent years in embroiled in a very public scandal, dubbed the Bettencourt Affair, spurred by her lawsuit against a photographer that received nearly $1 billion in gifts from her mother over the years.

Betterncourt Meyers is also the president of her family's foundation. This foundation does not focus on climate change or sustainability but instead focuses on the arts, life sciences, and inclusion.