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article imageWhy foundations are spending more to save the planet

By Karen Graham     Nov 12, 2018 in World
Philanthropic foundations from across the United States and around the world plan to spend $4 billion over the next five years to fight climate change – the largest climate-related philanthropic commitment ever made.
“We know that it is only a down payment,” the 29 contributing foundations declared in a joint statement at the end of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September. “Everyone has a role to play – and philanthropy must be prepared to invest many billions more.”
The philanthropic organizations, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, among many others, have made a global commitment to accelerate proven climate and clean-energy strategies, spur innovation and support organizations everywhere working to protect their communities.
The foundations are also working toward creating a global network of philanthropic investors focused on high leverage issues - like sustainable land use, healthy energy systems, inclusive economic growth, sustainable communities, land and ocean stewardship, and transformative climate investments.
The foundation set up by billionaire Bill Gates plans to issue annual reports monitoring progress to...
The foundation set up by billionaire Bill Gates plans to issue annual reports monitoring progress towards reaching UN-established goals to end poverty and improve conditions around the world
Christof STACHE, AFP/File
While so many public foundations are stepping up to allocate funds towards locally led conservation efforts around the world, it does beg the question - whose job is it to save the planet? But think about this - If it weren't for foundations and individuals pledging their personal funds to help governments to address a global problem, who would?
Climate change as a global issue
We are already in the midst of global warming's impacts, with rising sea levels, and increased coastal flooding, an increase in extreme weather events, longer and more damaging wildfire seasons, more destructive hurricanes, more frequent and intense heat waves, melting glaciers, coral bleaching and reef destruction as well as ongoing costly health impacts.
The fact that organizations, foundations, and large corporations are funding and investing in the innovations and technology needed to mitigate the effects of climate change may be because of a failure of the public sector and of the global community to take real and sustained action.
@MikeBloomberg doubles down to ensure America will fulfill the Paris Agreement.
@MikeBloomberg doubles down to ensure America will fulfill the Paris Agreement.
Bloomberg.Org
We can see this happening at the national level in the United States. It is politically and economically risky for politicians to seriously address global warming simply because the oil and gas industry maintains a strong hold on the economy and job market. You could say it would be political suicide to speak out against the oil and gas industry.
The global community isn't fairing much better. Even with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1995, up to and including the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, there has been difficulty in getting world governments to collaborate together for a common goal.
Foundations have three main priorities
It may be said there are three main priorities for climate change-related spending, and it doesn't really make any difference where the money comes from.
Talks in Bangkok have foundered over the key issue of how efforts to limit climate change are funded...
Talks in Bangkok have foundered over the key issue of how efforts to limit climate change are funded and how contributions are reported
Lillian SUWANRUMPHA, AFP
One is action and research, a forward-looking approach. This means finding ways to avert climate change on the most disastrous scale possible. Looking toward the future under a changing climate involves a number of initiatives, from research in land management in agriculture to new technologies in reducing greenhouse gasses.
The other priority addresses what is happening right now. Global warming is now a reality and is creating health risks, from increasing cases of asthma in children to increased deaths from heat waves. People already have lost their homes, livelihoods or loved ones because of the changing climate, as seen most recently with the unchecked wildfires in California.
Philanthropies have one more priority to consider, and that is controlling the collateral damage. For example, with renewables gaining in acceptance in the energy sector, many countries are retiring coal-fired power plants. Closures have resulted in economic losses to specific groups of workers and to whole communities.
Macron and Trump don't see eye to eye on climate change
Macron and Trump don't see eye to eye on climate change
John MACDOUGALL, AFP
Some charitable donations may seem to only constitute a small share of the private-sector money addressing global warming. However, these donors can and do, for example, simply invest in companies that are deploying solar power or offshore wind turbines.
Quartz is reporting that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, along with other billionaire philanthropists such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and entrepreneur Richard Branson, created a $1 billion fund to back startups working on climate change solutions. Gates serves as chairman of this private company.
The bottom line is this: It will take everyone, from individuals to foundations and governments to battle the impacts of climate change. With foundations helping to get new technologies off the ground, it is only a plus on the road to winning.
More about Philanthropic foundations, Climate change, catalysts, global coalitions, Investment