Jeff Bezos just announced he will commit $10 billion to fight climate change. That’s both a lot, and not much at all.

It’s a lot compared with other private climate funding. In fact, it’s more than anyone else is currently spending on climate. By comparison, the Hewlett Foundation, the single largest private climate funder before Bezos, gives around $100 million per year. Total private U.S. climate giving is around $500 million. Bezos’s commitment, if run as a foundation, would double that amount—more if spent down over time, a good idea in itself.

It’s relatively small compared to the overall challenge. Even $10 billion, spent wisely, won’t “solve” climate change. The U.S. government alone spends over $2 billion per year on climate-related research funding. Transitioning the global economy away from fossil fuels takes orders of magnitude more.

Bezos, of course, knows that. His brief announcement of the $10 billion commitment says: “It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals.”

Looked at it slightly differently, it takes both policy and technology—guiding economic forces away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner alternatives. That, at least, is for cutting CO₂ and other greenhouse-gas emissions in the first place. Adapting to what’s already in store is another massive undertaking entirely.

How, then, to spend the money?

Bezos himself provides some guide, saying his money will fund “scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” The span of scientists and activists is a good start, and it implies two distinct strategies:

First, actively engage in raw climate politics, especially in the U.S. The climate war is just that. That does not mean simply transactional politics. It takes a groundswell of support, as political scientist Theda Skocpol has argued forcefully. Today’s youth-led uprising might well be just such as movement.

Nobody knows when that next opening for a big U.S. federal climate policy push is, or whether the “3.5% rule” applies to the climate movement (that’s the idea that no social campaign supported by more than 3.5% of the U.S. population has failed). But as Barack Obama told Jerry Seinfeld, politics is a lot like American football. That means two things: being ready for when there is a political opening, and helping create that opening in the first place. Surely, $10 billion can help do both.

Practically, in U.S. tax lingo, that likely means creating a 501(c)(4) charity, rather than a 501(c)(3). The “(4)” allows for direct lobbying—and lobby it must.

Yes, we need campaign finance reform. Yes, there is too much money in politics. But given where we are—especially how time is not on our side—having the first grants go out this summer is not a day too soon. It might still be too late for this election cycle, but the calculus is simple, and it is very transactional: 51% for an ambitious climate policy in the House; 51 votes in the Senate, ideally 60. A climate champion in the White House, too, of course.

All that also means raw partisan politics. There are clearly some worthwhile efforts on the Republican side—and the final outcome may well involve some bipartisan support, but only some. Current Republican proposals of climate policy without pricing or regulating CO₂ won’t cut it. All that is unfortunate. It is current political reality. It is also where I should end.

Pushing climate policy to price carbon and to leverage public coffers for a concerted push on research, development, deployment, demonstration, and diffusion of new, cleaner, leaner technologies—the vaunted RDDD&D—is the most high-leverage way to make $10 billion go even further. It might also take much less than $10 billion.

What to do with the rest? That’s the second priority, and it’s the one that directly includes the (natural) scientists on Bezos’s list of intended recipients: direct private philanthropy aimed at making individual alternatives to fossil energy cheaper.

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