A group of 160 leading environmentalists is calling on the world’s philanthropists and foundations to use their money to “create a tipping point on climate change.”
The collection of activists, celebrities, and scientists—all winners of environmental prizes and representing 46 countries among them—make their case in a full-page ad in the international edition of Monday’s New York Times.
The “Environmental Laureates Declaration on Climate Change” reads, in part:
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 UN Climate Summit in Paris in December 2015 may be the last chance to agree on a treaty capable of saving civilization; We…call on foundations and philanthropists everywhere to deploy their endowments urgently in the effort to save civilization.
The declaration was circulated for signatures by the European Environment Foundation (EEF), which will now write letters to individual philanthropies urging them to help in these ways:
- By investing directly in clean energy companies and low-carbon projects;
- By withdrawing investments from fossil fuel companies or campaigning as shareholders for them not to develop new reserves;
- By making grants to support clean energy start-ups and stimulate the development of low-carbon markets.
A Q&A at the EEF site notes that this declaration is focused on philanthropy in part because many of the laureates’ prizes are sponsored by foundations—giving them special influence with such groups—and also because “foundations’ substantial financial resources, prestigious supporters and reputations make them well-placed to ‘trigger’ further action by others including companies, investors and governments.”
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“A small shift in the collective focus of foundations, and/or an acceleration by foundations already working on climate change, could make a big difference,” writes Jeremy Leggett, chairman of Carbon Tracker and coordinator of the declaration, in a post at Responding to Climate Change. “If they broadened and deepened their activities in line with the magnitude of the threat, this could well create space for a tipping point in climate action of all kinds.”