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ClimateWorks Foundation unveils latest trends in climate mitigation philanthropy

New research brings together data on foundation and individual giving to reveal global opportunities

SAN FRANCISCO – September 24, 2020 – ClimateWorks Foundation, a leading global platform for climate philanthropy, today published a new ClimateWorks Global Intelligence research brief on philanthropic funding for climate change mitigation. Titled Funding Trends: Climate Change Mitigation Philanthropy, the report brings together data on foundation and individual climate change mitigation funding to explore giving across a set of sectors and regions. The report provides a window into long-term trends, ongoing gaps, and opportunities to increase support to the areas of most critical need. 

“As funding for climate change mitigation increases, the deployment of those dollars needs to be calibrated across the areas most important to solving the climate crisis, accounting for emissions sectors, geographies, and societal implications,” said Surabi Menon, vice president of Global Intelligence, ClimateWorks Foundation. “Philanthropic funding is precious and funders need the best research and analysis to make strategic investment decisions that yield the highest impact.”

The Funding Trends report features many insights to help ClimateWorks’ partners develop effective climate strategies that enhance action across the field. In 2019, philanthropic funding to climate change mitigation was $5 billion to $9 billion out of $730 billion in total philanthropic giving. While foundation funding to climate change mitigation has nearly doubled since 2015, less than 2% of total giving — across individuals and foundations — remains directed toward climate change mitigation. Additional findings in the brief include:


•   Identifying sectors where funding levels are not commensurate with need. For example, the industrial and building sectors collectively receive less than 8% of foundation funding while accounting for 26% of direct emissions reductions needed to meet international climate goals under the Paris Agreement. 

•   Highlighting relative funding gaps and progress connected to specific windows for action. For example, scientific research shows the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is necessary to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. ClimateWorks’ funding data revealed this emerging sector of carbon dioxide removal receives drastically insufficient government and philanthropic funding. To help this underresourced sector rapidly scale up funding, ClimateWorks and partners established the Carbon Dioxide Removal Program in 2018 to drive policy advocacy, research on underfunded technologies, and policy and investment strategies. 

•   Pinpointing activities that do not directly produce emissions reductions in themselves but help create the conditions needed for climate solutions to be effective. This category of actions aimed at building an “Enabling Environment” includes activities that advance sustainable finance and supportive governance, as well as a range of public engagement strategies such as frontline activism. 

Walt Reid, director of conservation and science at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, said, “By combining funding flow data with climate modeling and other resources, ClimateWorks provides an essential resource to illuminate where funding is going relative to where it is most needed, how a donor’s strategy compares to resources and activities already in the field, areas where partnership and collaboration can maximize the impact of new grants or investments, and more.”


Delivering Expert Insight for Actionable Climate Opportunities

The Funding Trends brief builds on recent ClimateWorks Global Intelligence research, including the recently issued report, Achieving Global Climate Goals by 2050. Published last month, the report identifies actionable opportunities for emissions reductions by geography and sector during this decade. Among the report’s key findings is that close to 80% of total emissions reductions needed by 2050 to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals are possible in China, India, the U.S. and Canada, Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Brazil. Taken together, these two reports are important resources for enabling climate funders to optimize their giving and most effectively combat the climate crisis. 

Bathylle Missika from the OECD Centre on Philanthropy added, “Better data on philanthropic funding is an essential resource for the large field of philanthropists looking to make the biggest difference in the long-term. ClimateWorks’ data on climate philanthropy is a welcome addition to this burgeoning field.”

For more on ClimateWorks Global Intelligence visit: 


Download Reports

To access Funding Trends: Climate Change Mitigation Philanthropy, click here. To access Achieving global climate goals by 2050, click here.


About ClimateWorks Foundation

ClimateWorks Foundation is a global platform for philanthropy to innovate and accelerate climate solutions that scale. We deliver global programs and services that equip philanthropy with the knowledge, networks, and solutions to drive climate progress. Since 2008, ClimateWorks has granted over $1 billion to more than 500 grantees in over 40 countries.

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Published September 24, 2020

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