Jeff Bezos Commits $100M in Grants for AI Solutions to Climate Change

The A.I. for Climate and Nature Grand Challenge will prioritize solutions related to sustainable proteins, biodiversity conservation and power grid optimization.

Jeff Bezos
The billionaire is looking for tech-focused solutions to counter climate change. KENA BETANCUR/Afp/AFP via Getty Images

Billionaire Jeff Bezos is looking for practitioners, researchers and innovators with ideas about combatting climate change with artificial intelligence. The Amazon (AMZN) founder’s Bezos Earth Fund will invest up to $100 million into solutions through the A.I. for Climate and Nature Grand Challenge, a new initiative urging applicants to propose ways to utilize emerging technologies for environmental good.

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“Can modern A.I. help counter climate change and nature loss, and, if so, how? That’s the question we hope to answer,” said Bezos, currently the second wealthiest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $197.7 billion, in a statement. “By bringing together brilliant minds across fields, we may be able to invent new ways forward.”

Bezos first launched his environmentally-focused philanthropic fund in 2020 with a pledge to invest $10 billion toward fighting climate change over the next decade. It has given out some $2 billion through 230 grants thus far, focusing primarily on food system transformation, decarbonization efforts and nature conservation.

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Now, the fund is asking those working at universities, NGOs, private companies and global organizations to apply for grants that could help A.I. climate solutions come to fruition. For the first round of the Grand Challenge, Bezos is seeking solutions in the focus areas of sustainable proteins, biodiversity conservation and power grid optimization, with an additional “Wild Card” category for solutions falling outside the priority areas. Projects could include using A.I. to find protein alternatives with small environmental footprints, applying the technology to integrate renewable energy into electricity grids around the globe or utilizing vision and sound recognition to find new animal species, according to the Bezos Earth Fund.

The organization has already made notable investments in the sustainable protein arena, having committed $60 million earlier this year to establish research centers focused on increasing the quality and nutritional benefits of meat alternatives. In February, it partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute-USA to expand conservation efforts across forests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of the Congo.

Using A.I. to solve climate challenges

“The future is unlikely to be characterized by straight lines and gentle curves, but rather by unexpected changes and tipping points, good or bad,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund, in a statement, adding that the arrival of A.I. “will potentially solve very difficult challenges.” The A.I. for Climate and Nature Grand Challenge will have two phases, with the first awarding up to 30 seed grants for promising A.I. solutions. Awardees will be announced in September at a Bezos Earth Fund-TED event during Climate Week NYC and will subsequently be allowed to apply for grants up to $2 million, with the opportunity to receive support from tech leaders and access to relevant infrastructures and databases.

Bezos has previously proclaimed his support of A.I., calling himself “optimistic” about its potential for innovation and discovery in a 2023 podcast with computer scientist Lex Fridman. “Even in the face of all this uncertainty, my own view is that these powerful tools are much more likely to help us and save us than they are to unbalance, hurt us and destroy us,” he said.

Applications for the inaugural edition of the Bezos’ Grand Challenge will open next month, and there are plans to address alternative climate priorities in subsequent rounds.

Jeff Bezos Commits $100M in Grants for AI Solutions to Climate Change