Now that Joe Biden is the President-elect of the United States, the prospects of averting all-out climate catastrophe look a little less dire. The Senate will likely force it – pending the special election in Georgia, either the Republicans retain control of the Senate or the Democrats get a very narrow 50-50 majority and have to rely on the centrists to do anything – but there are still plenty of ways he can use his power to fight against climate change.
The situation calls for a potential change of approach if you wish to donate to climate causes. In the past, there was reason to believe that donating to American charities might not be the most profitable option – that, for example, your dollars can go further in developing countries. who strive to preserve their tropical forests.
But right now – and despite the stalemate in federal climate policy – there really are good reasons to donate to change US policy. Given that Biden campaigned on the climate and indicated he was ready to do bold moves on that front, it’s more likely now than under President Trump that donors can actually improve U.S. climate policy by funding the right groups.
And this is perhaps the most important time to make a donation. New leaders often do their most important political work in the early years of their presidency, so the contributions made at the start of the Biden era can have a huge impact when it comes to getting things done. weather. And with Giving Tuesday happening on December 1, some very rich people offer to match the gifts.
But what are the most effective, profitable, and factual charities to donate to if you want to improve US climate policy? Your three best bets are the Clean Air Working Group, Carbon180, and the Sunrise Movement Education Fund.
These recommendations come from Founders Pledge and Giving Green, two groups that seek out the most effective charities and guide donors to give to them. Founders Pledge recommends the Clean Air Task Force and Carbon180, while Giving Green recommends the Clean Air Task Force and the Sunrise Movement Education Fund.
As you can see, there are overlaps and discrepancies in these recommendations. And the divergence is instructive. This stems from the divergent assumptions of the recommenders about how best to move climate policy forward under a divided government: to focus on work that might have bipartisan appeal rather than lean on culture. progressive grassroots activism.
The Case for Funding Advocacy with a Bipartisan Appeal
Johannes Ackva, the researcher who wrote the Founders Pledge review, says now is especially important to focus on advocacy that targets Washington lawmakers, rather than grassroots activism. He notes that the combo that Americans are likely to end up with – a Democratic House and a Republican Senate – means lawmakers will need to craft climate proposals Republicans can support. So he thinks people concerned about climate change need to react to our new circumstances and change the typical approach.
“Especially in light of the election results, we think this type of advocacy is more impactful and overlooked than popular activism; right now, we need to work to turn proposals and visions into politically feasible and effective policies, ”he wrote. “The work of grassroots activists like the Sunrise movement, which targets Democrats to push for a more progressive climate agenda, is unlikely to have as much of an impact as the United States needs a bipartisan two-party policy .
There are reasons to be skeptical that the GOP will accept any bipartisan climate deal; after all, this is Mitch McConnell’s Senate, we’re likely talk about. And Ackva acknowledges that “Democrats will likely have to compromise because their favorite climate policies are unlikely to come through the Senate.”
But Republican climate intransigence, Ackva suggests, is why our best bet is to fund organizations that know how to make inroads with Republicans, rather than those that only have close ties to Democrats. Doing this obviously doesn’t guarantee a win, but failure to do so probably guarantees a loss. Ackva also believes that this type of advocacy is relatively neglected, which means that there are more dollars to have a bigger impact than directing dollars to an area that is already receiving funds and attention.
That’s why Founders Pledge recommends donating to the Clean Air Task Force and Carbon180. The first has a long history of successful advocacy for bipartisan climate policies under divided government. During the Bush years, for example, he led a successful campaign to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants in the United States and helped establish regulations on diesel, shipping, and methane emissions. He is also leading a campaign to promote innovation in advanced nuclear energy, which could facilitate global decarbonization.
Meanwhile, Carbon180 is focusing on ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere, a neglected but important piece of the climate puzzle. He successfully lobbied for a carbon capture tax credit and helped secure increased funding for carbon elimination research. And the organization is well connected among political elites: it often briefs congressional staff members and provides commentary on legislation, and its executive director Noah Deich has just joined the Energy Department’s transition team. Founders Pledge thinks that’s appropriate for now.
The Case for Funding Grassroots Activism
Dan Stein, the director of Giving Green, agrees that it is important to fund advocacy with a bipartisan appeal – hence Giving Green’s recommendation to donate to the Clean Air Task Force.
But he also thinks it’s important to fund grassroots militant groups, including those with strong ties to Democrats.
“I would push for a two-pronged strategy, because I think the policy is crafted through these coalitions of insider-outsiders,” he said. “You have people who have strong ties in the halls of Congress and with the president, then you have outside pressure that makes politicians pay attention to the issue. You see examples of this throughout history: civil rights movement, you had these pacts between [Martin Luther] King on the outside and Lyndon Johnson on the inside.
In addition to forcing Biden to continue prioritizing the climate, activists can shift the Overton Window, the range of policies that seem possible. Without a Democratic Senate, activists will almost certainly not succeed in securing a Green New Deal, but they can still continue to push its political ideas into the mainstream.
And while legislative climate policy needs Republican votes, there’s also the executive branch, where Biden will have plenty of leeway to make policy changes through regulatory agencies.
“A lot of the smart money is on most of the climate movement in the Biden administration which goes through the executive branch. For that, you don’t need bipartisanship, ”said Stein. “So the question is, who has the ear of the Biden administration? And I think people like Sunrise have an ear. They got that seat at the table.
He developed this in Giving Green’s recommendation, noting: “The Sunrise Movement Education Fund has played a central role in building a strong coalition of politicians, activists and scholars to unite around a policy framework commonly known as’ Standards, investment and justice ”. This framework was adopted by the Special House Committee on Climate Change and is integrated into the incoming administration of Biden climate plan. “
Giving Green says the Sunrise Movement Education Fund has been very effective in increasing its membership, but needs more funding to increase the size of its activist network so that it can continue to press for policy change.
So what’s the best climate charity to donate to right now?
Political scientists have a lot of different theories of change, and they will probably debate what is right for a long, long time. Since we don’t know for sure what is most effective in creating change in a political landscape like the one we’re about to enter, it may make sense to simultaneously support multiple evidence-based strategies.
Hedging your bets by donating to more than one type of charity isn’t always a sign of indecision. It can also be a sign of intellectual humility.
Whichever charity or charities you choose, know that the case for donating to improve U.S. climate policy right now is strong – both because Biden’s victory creates new openings and because the United States the biggest carbon polluter in history and the second carbon emitter in the world today. And while you might think that US climate work is already well funded, there are pockets within it that are still being overlooked; for example, when it comes to lobbying to influence climate legislation, the fossil fuel industry topped conservationists 10 to 1 in recent years.
That said, if you’re looking to donate to effective climate charities elsewhere in the world, check out this list, which includes high-impact groups who focus on other facets of the problem, such as protecting forests. tropical and technological innovation.
Finally, if you like the groups recommended by Founders Pledge, note that the donations that come from its Climate Fund are currently matched by Erik Bergman, marketing entrepreneur, until December 31.
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