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Is Jeff Bezos Part of the Climate Solution or the Problem?

Dean Rachel Kyte speaks with POLITICO about the role of philanthropy in the fight against climate change.

It was hard to move across the internet this week without bumping into headlines and hyperbole around the decision of the world’s richest person — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — to dedicate $10 billion of his personal fortune to a fund addressing climate change.


The world was left wondering if Bezos is part of the problem or part of the solution. The answer, according to Rachel Kyte, is both. The new dean of Tuft University’s Fletcher School and former U.N. Sustainable Energy envoy, told Global Translations that it’s a good thing if other climate-shy philanthropists can learn from Bezos. At the same time, Kyte insists that philanthropy is an inefficient model for mitigating climate change. “It’s a silver bullet mindset that is not going to get us there,” in terms of stabilizing the climate, she said. What is needed instead is mass-scale green infrastructure, driven by long-term global policy incentives, and for leaders like Bezos to change their own company practices: “If he was aggressive, he could move a mountain,” she said about Amazon’s vehicle fleet and Amazon Web Services’ huge electricity needs.

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