Philanthropy and the No-Coal Movement

From Global Energy Monitor

The study Design to Win: Philanthropy's Role in the Fight Against Global Warming examined the current level of philanthropic funding on global warming issues and developed a framework to guide future foundation investment to fight global warming. The study was supported by the Oak Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation,, the Joyce Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation.[1] It was conducted by California Environmental Associates, a San Francisco based consultancy company that has worked for clients ranging from oil and power companies to philanthropic foundations and environmental non-profit groups.[2]

Design to Win - Current and future funding

For the Design to Win report, the authors interviewed officials from 28 predominantly U.S. foundations that were active in funding global warming-related programs. Based on this the authors concluded that "philanthropy is now devoting about $210 million an annually toward the fight against global warming. By comparison, U.S. philanthropy devoted $3.2 billion to health, $3.1 billion to education and $1.5 billion to the arts in 2004, according to the Giving USA Foundation." The authors also noted that this figure was conservative as they hadn't included philanthropic spending on projects such as those aimed at reducing deforestation or "other drivers of climate change".[1] However, the report does not detail which foundations were contacted. Nor does the report provide any detailed breakdown on what programs are currently funded by foundations.

In one table, CEA estimated that the current annual philanthropic funding aimed at minimizing the need for coal was $15 million and proposed that the estimated annual additional amount needed was only $5-10 million. CEA also note that currently no foundation funding is spent on carbon capture and storage but proposed that between $30 and $40 million a year be devoted in this area. In comparison, CEA propose that an addition $30-40 million be spent on promoting improved vehicle efficiency and advocating polices aimed at ensuring the retrofitting of existing buildings and accelerating appliance turnover.[3]

The report authors concluded that "additional funding of approximately $600 million is needed an annually to implement the Design to Win priorities" which they identified as:

These include:

  • "Carbon policy advocacy and supportive analysis in the U.S. and around the globe
  • Sustained investment to build vibrant markets for renewables to replace coal, particularly in China and India
  • CCS deployment to mitigate emissions from coal-fired power plants, particularly in the U.S., China, and India
  • Influencing the built environment: energy efficiency of buildings and appliances, development patterns, transportation infrastructure
  • Emissions mitigation in the industrial sector, particularly in the U.S., China, and India
  • Greater support for strategy implementation in India, where efforts are underway but with little private, philanthropic backing".[1]

The report passingly proposes -- in a section titled 'Dethroning King Coal' -- that philanthropic funding should be directed in part to "building coalitions to oppose new coal-fired plants and promoting utility reform that requires purchases of renewable energy and stepped-up efficiency."[1] However, the report does not detail whether any funding is currently directed to grassroots groups opposing new coal-fired power plant projects or how this should be done. (See Design to Win: Philanthropy's Role in the Fight Against Global Warming for more detail on the analysis in this report).



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "European Climate Change Programme (2007)," The Oak Foundation website, accessed May 2008.
  2. "Client List", California Environmental Associates website, accessed May 2008.
  3. "Table 21: DTW Interventions Address - 11GT Mitigation Potential", Design to Win, page 44.

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