Welcome to this week’s edition of Climate Joy. This is the last week of this month and we can only hope your plans for the year are unfolding nicely. As per our custom in this series, we’ve rounded up some positive news to inspire you to keep up the good climate fight.
Here’s what we’re celebrating this week:
The world’s richest man and Amazon.com founder, Jeff Bezos has decided to throw his wealth behind the climate battle. In an Instagram post, the Amazon CEO announced a new fund to support scientists, activists and organizations working to mitigate the impact of climate change.
The initiative, called the Bezos Earth Fund, will see Bezos commit $10 billion “to start”and will begin giving out grants this summer.
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” Bezos said in the post. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change.”
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Today, I’m thrilled to announce I am launching the Bezos Earth Fund.??? ??? 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.??? ??? – Jeff
This comes after months of pressure by some of the company’s employees to respond to the climate crisis. Thousands of Amazon employees signed a letter last May asking how the company planned to respond to climate change, and many of them staged a walkout in September calling on the business to do more. A day before the walkout, Amazon announced a pledge to go carbon neutral by 2040, a decade before the deadline set out by the Paris climate agreement.
Critics continue to condemn the retail behemoth given the massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions it continues to emit throughout its operations. According to Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, “We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away,” the group said in a statement Monday, calling on Amazon to stop working with oil and gas companies or funding think tanks that deny climate change.
Mayor Sadiq Khan is to spend £50m on a Green New Deal for London as part of a pledge to make the UK capital carbon neutral by 2030. City Hall officials said the new fund had not been allocated to specific programmes yet but proposals being considered include energy efficient homes, creating new green spaces and speeding up solar panel installation throughout the capital city.
“These issues are personal to me,” the London mayor says. “I don’t want my children to grow up in a world where our very way of life is threatened by the climate crisis. And as someone who suffers from adult onset asthma, I understand the price we pay for failing to clean up our toxic air.”
The mayor, who is up for reelection in May’s London mayoral election, said the announcement highlights his commitment to tackling the climate crisis and improving London’s dangerous air pollution levels. The mayor has introduced an ultra-low emissions zone (Ulez) in central London which is due to expand to in surrounding areas, a policy that will also encourage more residents to cycle, although he has been criticised for not moving quickly enough.
Green groups welcomed the new fund but say Khan must go further if he is re-elected in May. Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace, said it was right that all candidates for London mayor prioritised the climate emergency. “We will see what all parties have to offer but this is a helpful pledge to increase the priority that climate protection receives in a city of global significance such as London,” he shared.
Parties in Los Angeles just got a lot less wild; literally.
LA City Council has approved legislation that will ban people from “exhibiting wild, exotic or dangerous animals at house parties and other loud or unruly gatherings”. So, going forward, while people are allowed to party like animals, they can’t have wild animals join them.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that imposed a state-wide ban on circus acts featuring wild animals like bears, tigers and monkeys. The legislation also restricts the use of the animals “in performances, to offer rides or to do tricks for a live audience.”
Councillor David Ryu led the effort and described seeing a giraffe and an elephant being “marched up the Hollywood Hills” for a party four years ago. “This is not safe, this is not ethical and perpetrates a barbaric view that wild and exotic animals are toys.”
Following extensive discussions with PETA, global apparel, footwear and brand management company, Global Brands Group, has announced that it will no longer sell fur. Global Brands Group may not sound familiar to most outside of retail, but it is the company responsible for licensing of more than a dozen popular brands, including Calvin Klein, Karen Millen and Kenneth Cole.
PETA has investigated the treatment of animals on fur farms across the world and have exposed how many can spend their entire lives confined to cramped and filthy wire cages. Fur farmers use the cheapest killing methods available, including neck-breaking, suffocation, poisoning, and genital electrocution.
Global Brands Group previously banned angora wool and ostrich skin after talks with PETA. It now joins hundreds of top designers and retailers—including Burberry, Gucci, Versace, and Michael Kors—in banning fur.
Speaking on the ban, PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said “PETA applauds Global Brands Group for its compassionate and business-savvy decision to ban fur, which shows that the future of fashion is vegan,” says “PETA urges all retailers to meet the rising demand for luxurious, cruelty-free alternatives or be shunned by ethical shoppers, who simply don’t want animals to be abused and killed for coats, collars, or cuffs.”
And that’s all for this week. Don’t forget to spread the positive climate news by sharing this post.
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Featured image of Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and recipient of the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal speaking to the audience after receiving his award at the Special Naturalization Ceremony held in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. on June 14, 2016. Credit: National Museum of American History.