Global Giving to Stop Climate Change Jumps 25% in 2021
Global Giving to Stop Climate Change Jumps 25% in 2021
ClimateWorks research shows funding for climate change mitigation sharply increased last year, outpacing overall philanthropic giving, but still falling significantly short of need
SAN FRANCISCO – Philanthropy sharply increased giving toward climate change mitigation by 25% in 2021, outpacing an 8% increase in overall philanthropic giving for the year, according to a new report. In its latest assessment of climate philanthropy released today, ClimateWorks Foundation’s Funding Trends 2022: Climate Change Mitigation Philanthropy report estimates total philanthropic giving grew to $810 billion in 2021, of which $7.5 billion to $12.5 billion focused on climate change mitigation.
Total giving to climate change mitigation from individuals and foundations has gathered momentum since 2015, with significant gains in funding year over year. However, it still represents less than 2% of global philanthropic giving.
“Far too many people are already experiencing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis caused by a dependence on fossil fuels,” said Helen Mountford, president and CEO of ClimateWorks Foundation. “Philanthropy needs to break through the 2% funding barrier if it is to do its part to keep the world aiming for a 1.5° C future. A 25% annual increase in giving is encouraging, but philanthropy needs to accelerate its efforts even more and move funds faster to the places that need them the most to give people and the planet a fighting chance.”
Funding Trends covers global foundation and individual funding data from 2015 to 2021 and the trends shaping philanthropic giving toward climate. In recent years, foundation funding for climate change mitigation has more than tripled, growing from $900 million in 2015 to more than $3 billion in 2021. At the same time, the number of grantees receiving climate change mitigation funding has nearly doubled, from about 1,400 in 2015 to about 2,775 in 2021.
“We are moving in the right direction with climate change mitigation philanthropy nearly doubling in the last three years. This is the momentum we need to come together, collaborate, and scale it much faster,” said Jennifer Kitt, president of the Climate Leadership Initiative. “The field is ready for that with so many solutions ready for major philanthropic funding all around the globe. Working together to heal the planet is our opportunity and our challenge. Scientists say we can do it, still. And, philanthropy can help make it happen. But it must scale exponentially – now.”
In 2021, the top three sectors to receive funding were clean electricity; forests; and food and agriculture. Those with the fastest funding growth were forests (69% increase) and carbon dioxide removal (62% increase). Additionally, a combined category of governance, diplomacy, and legal was the top-funded enabling strategy.
The top regions to receive foundation funding for climate change mitigation in 2021 were the United States and Canada ($810 million) and Europe ($435 million). Together, these represent two-thirds of country- or region-specific funding, with the other one-third going to support climate action in the rest of the world. Latin America saw its funding double between 2020 and 2021, and funding to Africa increased by 50%. Despite these increases, Latin America and Africa combined still represented less than 10% of total foundation funding in 2021.
“It’s striking how little foundation funding is going toward mitigating climate change in many major emerging countries and regions where emissions are increasing,” said Surabi Menon, vice president of global intelligence for ClimateWorks and an author of the report. “Achieving global climate goals will require that philanthropy both continue to fund climate mitigation strategies of current major emitting countries while also providing much more funding to as many emerging countries as possible to support their low carbon transitions in the years ahead.”
Saliem Fakir, executive director of The African Climate Foundation, added, “ClimateWorks’ research illuminates many opportunities where philanthropy can help accelerate climate action on the African continent, where climate philanthropy funding has steadily increased by an average of 30% a year since 2015. As the first African-led strategic grantmaker and think tank working at the nexus of climate change and development, we understand the immense potential for climate change interventions to unlock development opportunities in Africa while also accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy.”
The report also highlights how the growth of climate philanthropy extends beyond increases in total funding dollars and commitments to shifting approaches and strategies, with an increased focus on fossil fuel divestment, justice and equity, integrated solutions, and increased collaboration, including with the private sector and governments.
“To end the climate crisis, funders’ investments must be comprehensive and ratchet up support to underfunded organizational partners working at the local level, to ensure that solutions reflect local realities,” said Danielle Deane-Ryan, director of equitable climate solutions, Bezos Earth Fund. “Well-meaning but inadequately informed efforts to address the climate crisis will not be durable if they exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, existing social and economic inequalities. To get transformation at the speed we need, we must intentionally anchor the transition to a clean economy with equity and justice.”
“ClimateWorks’ Funding Trends report shows how incredibly far philanthropy has come in a few short years,” said Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. “But it also reveals how much farther we must go to fully catalyze the transformations needed to mitigate the climate harms already happening and ensure communities around the globe can thrive today and for generations to come.”
Download the Funding Trends 2022 report 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 $1.3 billion to more than 750 grantees in over 50 countries.