Climate change’s an adverse effects are coming to bear ~ above high-priority philanthropic issues. More and better funding can safeguard vulnerable stakeholders and speed the net-zero transition.

Climate change has begun to exacerbate societal obstacles in many areas that philanthropies have prioritized, such together education, health, human rights, equality, and also food security. Still better threats to human being well-being lied ahead. Climate hazards are collection to become more frequent and an ext intense over the coming decade, and also research reflects that levels of physical risk will boost unless an international greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions are significantly reduced.

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This write-up is a collaborative initiative by Suzanne Cox, Tom Hellstern, Kimberly Henderson, Tracy Nowski, Maisie O’Flanagan, Dickon Pinner, Taylor Ray, and Adam Sabow, representing see from’s Sustainability Practice and also Philanthropy organization line.

Despite climate change’s influence on their work, philanthropies have historically allocated relatively small sums come addressing the problem. In 2020, US-based approve makers disbursed almost $64billion. Of that, about $320 million went straight toward climate adjust (Exhibit 1). Additional funding went to related environmental priorities, such together air, land, and also water conservation, because that a full of $1.4billion, however even these quantities pale in comparison come those invested on matters together as education and learning ($10.5 billion). 1 1. Data is from Candid’s structure Directory virtual on us philanthropies from 2020, including foundations, ar foundations, community trusts, corporate providing programs, and also giving circles. more recently, major philanthropists have pledged big sums come climate change—$500 million indigenous Michael Bloomberg, $750 million from Stewart and Lynda Resnick, $1billion from Hansjörg Wyss, $3.5 exchange rate from Laurene Powell Jobs, and also $10 billion from Jeff Bezos—joining longtime climate funders such as the David and also Lucile Packard Foundation, the William and also Flora Hewlett Foundation, and also the john D. And also Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


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Even accountancy for these new commitments, philanthropic funding of climate-change solutions stays meager contrasted with the scale of the problem and the speed with i beg your pardon the civilization must plot to stop climate change and the enduring it causes. To lower the odds of initiating climate change’s many dangerous effects, researchers estimate that it’s crucial to limit warming to 1.5°C. This would call for a significant reduction that GHG emissions by 2030 and the accomplishment of net-zero emissions through 2050—an venture calling for trillions of dollars of extr capital spending. Still much more funding will be necessary to boost resilience versus physical climate dangers that are now inevitable.

While lot of that resources would come from companies, governments, and investors, philanthropists can play a an important role in the world’s response to climate adjust by targeting geographies, industries, and solutions that many need support. Foundations, charitable LLCs, and individual donors re-publishing a distinctive ability to deploy nimble, responsive, flexible, risk-tolerant, patient resources in methods that assistance high-value interventions directly and also can attract more funding from other sources. And also they have a broad selection of resources mechanisms through which to journey impact, consisting of grants, mission- and program-related investments, competitions and prizes, and also venture philanthropy.

In this article, we illustrate opportunities for philanthropists come act ~ above climate readjust by highlighting 3 promising focus areas: cultivating policy environments and also civil societies pushed to struggle climate change; investing in climate services that lack sector support; and also protecting human being from climate risks and also supporting eco-friendly justice. We close with a speak to for the philanthropic ar to rise their own climate funding, mobilize funding from other sources, and also improve collaboration—all of which would certainly make a far-reaching impact top top the climate challenge.

The climate imperative because that philanthropy

The reason for philanthropies to resolve climate change is clear: a warming environment puts push on the really causes and stakeholders that philanthropies many want come support. For communities roughly the world, climate readjust has worsened physical hazards, such as violent storms, floods, drought, and intense heat, the take a serious human and also economic toll. As result of the warming strength of GHGs currently in the atmosphere, these harmful effects are set to become more widespread and intense v 2030. And also if emissions continue to rise unabated, climate science tells united state that feedback loops, such as forest declines (or “diebacks”), can cause far-ranging further warming the would bring about even more intense physical hazards. This climate effects multiply the risks to philanthropic endeavors in areas such together the following:

Global health and also pandemics. Climate change increases the load of an illness and ill wellness in miscellaneous ways. Between 2030 and 2050, climate readjust is meant to cause about 250,000 added deaths per year because of heat exposure in elderly people, diarrhea, malaria, and childhood undernutrition. 2 2. “Climate change and health,” world Health Organization, February 1, 2018, In India, part 160 million to 200 million world could annually face a 5 percent opportunity of being exposed come a lethal warmth wave as at an early stage as 2030 there is no targeted adaptation action. Deforestation, which increases climate change, likewise increases the risk of zoonotic diseases—of i beg your pardon SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is just one lethal example. 3 3. Andrew Dobson et al., “Ecology and also economics for pandemic prevention,” Science, July 2020, Volume 369, concern 6502, pp. 379–81,

Inequality. Racial and ethnic minorities, low-income communities, and less-developed nations tend to be more exposed come climate hazards. For example, african farmers tend to be much more vulnerable to fluctuations in rainfall, warmer temperatures, and variable yieldsthan farmers in emerged countries. Study by the an international Institute suggests that Asia’s least-developed countries challenge the best climate risk and that the extreme heat that outcomes from climate change will alleviate working hours in poorer countries more than in rich countries (Exhibit 2). Typically, underprivileged groups also have less access to social programs and resources the might aid them withstand these hazards.


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Displacement and statelessness. In 2017, weather occasions such as floods, wildfires, and storms displaced an approximated 22 million to 24 million people. Climate-induced displacement is most likely to continue as extreme weather and also chronic physical risks make regions much less habitable. The World bank estimates that by 2050, some 143 million civilization in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and also South Asia will move domestically due to the fact that of climate change. 4 4. Kanta Kumari Ragaud et al., Groundswell: preparing for internal climate migration, civilization Bank, 2018,

Empowerment that women and also girls. Climate risks exacerbate underlying gender inequality. Women make up the majority of people displaced through climate-related catastrophes worldwide. 5 5. Evicted by climate change: Confronting the gendered effects of climate-induced displacement, CARE, 2020, Climate change and climate-related calamities have been shown to rise rates of domestic violence and gender-based sexual violence because that women and also girls. 6 6. “Climate change increases the threat of violence versus women,” unified Nations framework Convention top top Climate Change, November 25, 2019, Droughts, floods, and also extreme temperatures disproportionally rise women’s workloads, together rural women and girls in developing economies rely much more on agricultural work and also carry the load of gathering food, fuel, and also water for your households. 7 7. Climate change & women, Oxfam America, 2008–09,

By help to stabilize the climate and also blunt climate change’s locked-in effects, philanthropies can assist stakeholders whom they currently aim come serve. To execute so efficiently, philanthropies will desire to target locations where they space uniquely positioned to help.

Targeting philanthropic action in locations of need

Responding come climate readjust involves two wide classes of activities that philanthropists can usefully support. The first, decarbonization, is composed of to reduce emissions that GHGs or removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Its function is to prevent the additional buildup of physics hazards and also lessen the risk of initiating climate feedback loops. Researchers estimate the restricting warming come 1.5°C, an ambition likewise specified in the 2015 Paris climate accord, would alleviate the risk of initiating most of the significant feedback loops. The pathway towards 1.5 degrees of warmingis identified by quick emissions reductions in every part of the worldwide economy, start now and resulting in no net emissions by 2050 (Exhibit 3).


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The other main type of climate response is adaptation. This advert to efforts to protect people and also assets versus the physics hazards resulted in by climate change, such as excessive weather; to make systems more resilient and also robust; to mitigate exposure to climate dangers by relocating assets and also communities; and also to help manage danger with insurance and also other jae won mechanisms. Adaptation is important because further increases in physics climate risks are “locked in” end the next decade, because of GHGs currently present in the atmosphere.

Philanthropists possess expertise, resources, and also techniques that have the right to powerfully development both decarbonization and adaptation efforts. Lock can quickly deploy unrestricted funds in response to urgent difficulties such as organic disasters, back high-risk endeavors (or derisk them to lure capital), convene stakeholders and promote collaboration, develop and share research, and also engage in plan advocacy the supports large-scale implementation the climate solutions. As for which climate worries to tackle, philanthropies are usually well suitable to attend to market fail in locations of significant and urgent need and also lend help to underserved communities. Between decarbonization and adaptation, the previous stands out as the area where philanthropic support would have the biggest long-term benefits.

With those capabilities and also priorities in mind, we involved dozens that climate professionals at and also other institutions in assessing opportunities for foundations, philanthropic LLCs, and family workplaces to beat an outsize, transformative duty in climate action. Below, we highlight that role by describing three areas in i beg your pardon philanthropies could intervene: fostering a pro-climate policy environment and civil society; investing in climate services that lack sector support; and protecting human being from climate risks and also supporting eco-friendly justice.

Fostering plan environments and civil societies thrust to hit climate change

Public policies and also spending programs are important to enabling climate action. Numerous countries have actually announced targets to attain net-zero emissions through midcentury; these targets currently cover some two-thirds of global emissions. But couple of have collection out comprehensive plans or developed the selection of plan mechanisms the would allow them to reach those targets. Philanthropists could aid kick-start governments’ efforts to develop awareness that climate risks, create markets because that low-carbon technologies, assistance investment in infrastructure (such together hydrogen circulation systems), and also encourage early-stage R&D for decarbonization solutions.

To this end, philanthropic establishments can aid build the technological acumen of public servants working on climate issues. Maintain courses, workshops, and conferences equip public representative with knowledge and help create neighborhoods of practice. Because that example, the NDC cooperation trains public servants through programs supporting the implementation the countries’ climate-action pledges (nationally figured out contributions, or NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, and also the Rocky mountain Institute’s Energy transition Academy teaches political leaders in emerging countries just how to encourage the use of clean-energy technologies.

Community and also national proponents play vital role in influencing policy makers, shaping publicly debate, and also rallying support for change. Philanthropies might consider assisting them through funds because that rapid-response projects and also general operations. For example, the CLIMA Fund, i m sorry enjoys backing native multiple philanthropic organizations, has detailed more than 14,000 grants to grassroots groups.

Philanthropies can likewise catalyze climate activity by supporting voluntary civil-society programs that host organizations accountable because that doing more than governments require. Because that example, the gold Standard, produced by the human being Wildlife Fund and also backed by philanthropies, promulgates verification criteria and also procedures for carbon credits sold in voluntary sectors to construct confidence in the market and also ensure that the emissions-reduction projects avoid carbon pollution. Coalition structure can help address policy gaps and also the resulting market failures, as well as encourage establishments to uphold climate-related windy policies.

Lastly, philanthropies can stage public-awareness projects that encourage people to embrace climate-friendly behaviors, lot as they have actually helped promote other actions that are healthful and good for the environment and society. To underpin together an effort, they can fund research on which habits would most alleviate carbon emissions indigenous one location to another and also what messages and also channels would certainly influence adjust most effectively.

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Investing in climate options that lack industry support

Extensive decarbonization will certainly involve rapid, massive implementation that both low-carbon technologies, such together renewables, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage, and also natural climate services (NCS) such as reforestation. Research study by and the world Economic Forumsuggests that NCS projects alone might yield practically one-third the the emissions reductions compelled to achieve a 1.5-degree warming pathway. The difficulty is the uptake of climate options is well behind the pace forced under a 1.5-degree scenario (Exhibit 4).