Designed to Win Climate-policy Fights

  • Public-Policy Reform
  • 2007

“Left unattended, human-induced climate change could overshadow all our other efforts to cure diseases, reduce poverty, prevent warfare and preserve biodiversity. Global, collective action is paramount…. How can philanthropists turn the tide against global warming?”

Those were some of the opening sentences of a 2007 report that the Hewlett, Packard, Doris Duke, Energy, Oak, and Joyce foundations commissioned in hopes of finding ways to “win in the battle against climate change.” These donors had long been activists on the global-warming issue, and the study they paid for, called Design to Win, laid out a strategy for blocking coal-fired power plants and other producers of carbon dioxide in the short term, then creating new policies in the longer term to drastically reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The report called on climate-concerned philanthropists to increase their giving in this area from the existing $177 million per year to $525 million to $660 million per year.

The very next year, an activist organization called ClimateWorks emerged out of this. The Hewlett Foundation pledged $100 million annually over five years to get it launched, and the Packard Foundation has kicked in $40 million to $60 million per year of crucial support. The Packard and Hewlett foundations are the two largest philanthropic funders of global-warming activism in the world, having between them granted more than a billion dollars over the most recent decade just to their two favorite recipients—ClimateWorks and the Energy Foundation.

These two mega-donors were joined in setting up ClimateWorks by the McKnight, Ford, Rockefeller, Kresge, Moore, and other foundations. The organization channels their donated money to affiliated organizations, and presses for strong new government policies and environmental controls. According to the latest-available IRS filings, ClimateWorks collected $170 million from donors in 2012. The group’s official goal is to slash emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 50 percent by the year 2030.