Amazon promises €20m for nature-based climate solutions in Europe

E-commerce giant Amazon has pledged to spend €20m (£17.2m) on nature-based projects across Europe, in a bid to improve carbon sequestration, boost climate resilience and improve biodiversity and wellbeing.

Amazon promises €20m for nature-based climate solutions in Europe

The first project to benefit is planting 22 million trees across Italy

The funding will come from the firm’s €100m ‘Right Now Climate Fund’, which was first unveiled in 2019 and will be used to conserve, restore and create forests, wetlands and peatlands across the world. Amazon said at the time that the fund was set up to take “immediate action” to combat the twin climate and nature crises.

The €20m will be allocated to projects across Europe, in regions where Amazon has operations. The first project to receive funding will be the Parco Italia programme, an urban greening initiative which is planting 22 million trees across 14 metropolitan areas. Amazon’s base for this activity will be Milan, where it has 1,400 employees. Other areas set to receive trees are Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Catania, Florence, Genoa, Messina, Naples, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Rome, Turin and Venice.

Parco Italia is supported by a string of organisations across the country, including the Italian Government, the National Research Council, ERP Italia, the Italian Society of Silviculture and Forest Ecology (SISEF) and more than a dozen universities. It will receive a €2m share of Amazon’s Right Now Climate Fund.

Further projects to benefit from the fund will be announced in the coming months.

“Our goal with nature-based investments like the Parco Italia programme is to create positive environmental and social impact, closer to our customers and communities in Europe,” said Amazon’s director for sustainability in Europe, Zak Watts.

“In the fight to combat climate change and preserve biodiversity, we will need both large-scale and local action – and we’re committing to investing in both.”

The news comes in the same week that Amazon’s founder and former chief executive, Jeff Bezos, confirmed that $1bn of his $10bn ‘Bezos Earth Fund’ will be allocated towards nature conservation projects. The fund was first announced in February 2020

The $1bn will be used “to create, expand, manage and monitor protected and conserved areas,” the Fund’s website states. Information has not yet been provided on where and how the funding will be allocated.

When the Fund first launched, skeptics immediately questioned why there was not more information on how the $10bn sum was calculated and how it will be allocated. While a string of announcements over the past year-and-a-half have provided some clarity, the conservation allocation this week has prompted fresh concerns from some environmental activists and groups.

Chicks for Climate wrote on Instagram: “Unelected billionaires should not be spending more than governments on mitigating climate change. The problem with a private party spending that much on the climate is that they have almost no liability or responsibility if something goes wrong when the money is spent.”

Background in biodiversity

Earlier this year, Amazon joined a group of businesses that have joined the UK, US and Norwegian governments in setting up a new public-private initiative committing $1bn to combat the climate crisis through the conservation and preservation of tropical forests across the globe. The Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance (LEAF) Coalition has been set up by governments from the UK, Norway and the US with private sector support arriving from Amazon, Airbnb, Bayer, Boston Consulting Group, GSK, McKinsey, Nestlé, Salesforce, and Unilever.

After joining the LEAF Coalition, Amazon launched the Agroforestry and Restoration Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The Accelerator will initially support 3,000 farmers in the Brazilian Amazonian state of Pará, restoring approximately 20,000 hectares—around the size of the City of Seattle—within three years.

Sarah George

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