Emphasizing Climate and Equity in a COVID-19 Recovery
February 1, 2021 | Perspectives | Climate Solutions

Jorgen Thomsen, Director, Climate Solutions, discusses the new focus on ambitious domestic climate goals centered on equitable outcomes.


The new year brings a new focus for our Climate Solutions work as we reorient our strategy from emphasizing “international leadership” across the countries where we work to “domestic ambition with equity.” This decision is based on our experience supporting our grantee partners’ tireless work to reduce emissions and foster climate leadership. And the COVID-19 pandemic and protests against police brutality further underscored the importance of equity considerations in meeting the demands the climate crisis places on society and the economy. We believe that to raise the ambition and impact of climate solutions, we must recognize the interconnectedness between improvements in livelihoods and a stable climate. 

We can design, demand, and build much bolder and broader policy options that create a truly resilient economy that works for people, instead of polluters.

Because of COVID-19, we are in a transformational moment with unprecedented amounts of recovery funding that will either support a decarbonizing world or make things worse. With a focus on the science-based targets of decarbonization needed by 2030, we can design, demand, and build much bolder and broader policy options that create a truly resilient economy that works for people, instead of polluters.

Since our program’s launch in 2014, the urgency to address climate change has increased immensely. The pivot from international leadership to domestic ambition with equity within key countries reflects the reality of this scientific and political moment. Of the many alarming climate trends, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that every single square inch of the continental United States was warmer than normal in 2020. We are indeed in a climate emergency.

The events surrounding the pandemic, racial unrest, and unprecedented natural disasters have further exposed how the communities most vulnerable to climate change are vulnerable because of failings in the global economic system and the institutions that govern it. A climate strategy with equity as a prerequisite for reaching the next level of ambition provides an unprecedented opportunity to address the climate crisis and simultaneously improve the livelihoods of those living in vulnerable communities. 

We deeply value the progress that our partners have made in the first five years of the Climate Solutions program—especially given the political headwinds—and many of our assumptions about what is needed to drive our target geographies to decarbonization remains the same. We continue to believe that focusing on the energy and power sector is smart not only because of the ability to work across the political spectrum but also because affordable clean energy should be available to all.

Our team continues to believe that robust and resilient clean energy policies at the subnational level are the backbone on which decarbonization will succeed. We strive to support a broad set of solutions that will disrupt the fossil fuel industry. In addition to the deep coalition work and scientific inquiry we have funded over the years, we look forward to partnering with more organizations that approach the work of preventing climate change by putting people first. 

Solutions are often best born from the people experiencing the economic and health hardships that climate change brings.

We have challenged ourselves as a team to think critically about the people the climate crisis most deeply impacts and the places of privilege from which we approach this problem. Building the capacity of local organizations will remain a high priority. In part, because solutions are often best born from the people experiencing the economic and health hardships that climate change brings. 

As we shift toward greater domestic ambition, focusing on equity, we will use our evaluation activities to hold us accountable to our aims. Further, we will continue to work transparently by making our goals, intended outcomes, and learnings accessible and visible to grantees and the public.

The challenges we all faced in 2020 and the ways our partners rose to meet them are not to be minimized. And with glimmers of light on the horizon in 2021, we look forward to continuing this work, with even more conviction and ambition than we have in the past.

 

Climate Solutions grantmaking ›

Climate Solutions strategy ›

Other Director's Reflections ›

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations.

Connect with us on social media or view all of our social media content in one place.

The privacy of your data is important to us. We've updated our privacy policies in response to General Data Protection Regulation.