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Philanthropies unite to combat climate change

Environment Programme / Programme news / Video

Photo: © Oak Foundation

Each year on April 22, we remember World Earth Day – the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

In 2019 we mark it by celebrating how, in September 2018, 29 philanthropists came together to pledge USD 4 billion over five years to combat climate change. This is the largest-ever philanthropic investment focused on climate change mitigation ever. Oak has joined this group by pledging USD 250 million. This represents a broad global commitment to accelerate proven climate and clean energy strategies, spur innovation and support organisations around the world to protect the air they breathe and the communities they call home.

Known as the Climate Leadership Initiative, this effort of unprecedented ambition hopes to achieve what has never before been done in the philanthropic sector. It aims to dramatically increase philanthropic investment in climate mitigation efforts from one per cent to much more. By creating synergy between various sectors of philanthropy, it aims to remove the barriers among philanthropists funding on different but related issues.

ClimateWorks Foundation, based in San Francisco, has helped orchestrate these funding commitments. “Over the last five years, there has been USD 3 billion committed to climate, which while great, only makes up one per cent of philanthropic funding,” says Shawn. “For a problem like this one,it’s completely insufficient. The 4-billion-dollar announcement demonstrates how philanthropy is willing to do more. For example, there are links between food and climate or health and climate, so why not unite philanthropists supporting health initiatives or good food initiatives together around solving problems?”

The campaign’s goals are to electrify transportation systems globally, phase out coal and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “The reality is that the most disenfranchised people in the world are the most affected by the impact of climate change – and we are trying to create economic opportunity for them,” says Shawn. “It’s just a reality, that by solving climate change and creating a new energy infrastructure for the world, we’re actually creating the next global economic revolution.”

ClimateWorks aims to do this by tackling energy systems and transport systems, which are driving the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. “We believe we can make this a more inclusive, prosperous global environment,” says Charlotte Pera, President and CEO of ClimateWorks. “There are so many opportunities for philanthropists to get involved in climate change mitigation efforts.”

The Climate Leadership Initiative will also invest in supporting state and local organisations working on the frontlines of climate change. It will propel the expansion of proven approaches and innovations in climate change mitigation. “If we are successful in meeting global climate goals, that success will bring with it a whole slew of benefits,” says Charlotte, “everything from clean, affordable, accessible energy for everyone, to clean air, better food security, water security, more liveable cities, new businesses and jobs and so forth.”