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Top Environmentalists Call on Foundations to Turn the Tide on Global Warming

By Sherrell Dorsey

With just a week away from the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, 160 leading environmentalists from 44 countries are calling on the world’s foundations and philanthropies to take a stand against global warming.

The group, comprised of award-winning environmental laureates, issued the “Declaration on Climate Change” published in the International New York Times last week, calling on foundations and philanthropies to deploy their endowments and save civilization as we face the dangers of a warming climate heading to 4 degrees and 6 degrees Celsius temperatures.

“Our goal with the Environmental Laureates’ Declaration is to help foundations see that the impact of their charitable giving can be augmented by their investment behavior with no risk to their portfolios. Companies, funds and other investor assets that are fossil-free and/or focused on the clean energy economy are now performing at least as well as their more traditional counterparts,” said Aimee Christensen, Hillary Laureate, founder and CEO of Christensen Global Strategies and one of the key signatories of the declaration.

“Major philanthropic foundations, which control hundreds of billions in investments, have a major opportunity to contribute to the rapidly accelerating growth of climate and clean energy solutions. We hope they seize that opportunity and in doing so, reduce their own risk and increase their impact.”

The European Environment Foundation (EEF), which took the lead on circulating the declaration, will independently write to foundations, asking them to leverage their financial power and influence to positively impact efforts to reduce global warming and climate change through the following actions:

  • By investing directly in clean energy companies and low-carbon projects.

  • By making grants to support clean energy start-ups and stimulate the development of low-carbon markets.

The full text of the declaration argues that the growing scale of climate change will not only devalue or destroy all the good work done by the world’s foundations, but it will also erode the worth of endowments, leaving them with “stranded assets” in companies damaged by the consequences of global warming.
Environmental Laureates’ Declaration on Climate Change

“Aghast that the Earth is heading for 4 to 6 degrees celsius of global
warming, given current policies on the burning of coal, oil and gas

“Terrified that we will lose our ability to feed ourselves, run out of
potable water, increase the scope for war, and cause the very fabric
of civilization to crash as a consequence of the climate change that
global overheating will bring about

“Devastated that our governments have not succeeded yet in slowing,
much less stopping, the flow of greenhouse gases into our thin
atmosphere, in the full knowledge of these risks, despite a quarter
century of trying

“Aware that the December 2015 Paris Climate Summit may be the
last chance to agree a treaty capable of saving civilization

“Believing that the world’s philanthropic foundations, given the
scale of their endowments, hold the power to trigger a survival reflex
in society, so greatly helping those negotiating the climate treaty

“Recognizing that all the good works of philanthropy, in all their
varied forms, will be devalued or even destroyed in a world en route
to six degrees of global warming or more, and that endowments that
could have saved the day will end up effectively as stranded assets

“We, 160 winners of the world’s environmental prizes call on
foundations and philanthropists everywhere to deploy their
endowments immediately in the effort to save civilization”

Dr. Jeremy Leggett, the EEF Trustee who coordinated the declaration, and is also a Hillary Laureate for Exceptional Leadership in Climate Change Solutions stated: “We hope this appeal will stimulate vital investment in a clean energy future, demonstrate support for an ambitious climate change treaty, and create space for a tipping point in climate action."

Image via Mikael Miettinen Flickr

Sherrell Dorsey is a social impact writer, social entrepreneur and advocate for environmental, social and economic equity in underserved communities. Visit Sherrell at www.sherrelldosey.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @sherrell_dorsey.

Sherrell Dorsey headshot

Sherrell Dorsey is a social impact storyteller, social entrepreneur and advocate for environmental, social and economic equity in underserved communities. Sherrell speaks and writes frequently on the topics of sustainability, technology, and digital inclusion.

Read more stories by Sherrell Dorsey