Limit global warming as close as possible to the scientifically endorsed goal of 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Why We Support This Work
Based on a vast scientific literature, we know that:
- Earth’s climate is changing in ways inconsistent with natural variability.
- The principal cause is the build-up of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping substances (e.g., methane) emitted mainly by the burning of fossil fuels for electricity production and the increasing use of land in ways that limit its ability to absorb greenhouse gases.
- Harmful impacts are already being experienced around the world and across the United States.
- Negative impacts will only increase in intensity until emissions are drastically reduced.
Any scenario for limiting warming to no more than the 2-degree goal means reducing global emissions sharply in the next decade. The starting point is that a small number of countries are responsible for a very large share of global emissions. The three largest emitters, in order, are China, the United States, and India. China is the world’s largest emitter; leaders there increasingly understand the dangers of air pollution and climate change and are moving toward cleaner energy. The United States was historically the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter yet continues to lack a cohesive national approach to addressing climate change. India’s emissions are projected to surpass China’s, with 80 percent of projected emissions to come from sources not yet built; this provides an opportunity to make long-term, beneficial decisions now.
The working theory of change is based on the premise that if the United States, China, and India exert global leadership on climate change, then other nations will be compelled to act. Global leadership will be demonstrated through policies, actions, and investments in India, China, or the United States that:
- decrease the carbon-intensity of their respective economies;
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons); and
- build political will and public demand for climate solutions.
Based on the most relevant science, the theory of change posits that at least these three countries must begin to implement policies, take actions, and encourage investments that significantly accelerate reductions of greenhouse gas emission by no later than 2025.
The theory of change acknowledges that each nation’s leadership will ebb and flow over the years as each country faces social, economic, and political pressure to moderate the pace of implementing and sustaining significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions in their respective economies. Therefore, each nation will have its own style, approach, and goals, though collectively they must ensure a steep decline in current and future greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. If these three nations meet their ambitious emissions reductions targets, then other nations will be compelled to act and meet their own targets, which collectively would result in the world abating catastrophic climate change.
Through this grantmaking, we will support efforts to turn the corner on rising emissions of greenhouse gases by 2025, a threshold beyond which scientists agree that rising seas, severe droughts, and food and water security become permanent challenges to humankind. To meet that goal, international leadership and cooperation is needed to slow the rate of climate change quickly and to put in place the systematic changes needed to drive down emissions steeply in the long term.
Any scenario for limiting warming to no more than the 2-degree goal means beginning to reduce global emissions sharply by 2025 and then continuing that trend through 2050 and beyond. Though global action is necessary, our grantmaking focus on the United States, India, and China is aimed at achieving the following outcomes:
- Globally, nations achieve robust implementation of the Paris Accord, which is the best option to begin the necessary steep greenhouse gas emissions reductions across the globe.
- Leadership by the United States, India, and China motivates and compels other countries, corporations, and citizens to contribute to substantive mitigation activities.
- Collectively, the nations of the world devise credible and durable mitigation strategies and, most importantly, show significant combined impact by 2025.
- In addition to the Paris Accord, nations undertake complementary efforts as well, including carrying out the Kigali Amendment as expeditiously as possible.
- Concentration of heat-trapping substances stabilize at 450 parts per million CO2 equivalent or less in the atmosphere.
Given the current and evolving approaches to address climate change, grants focus on building and sustaining sufficient leadership in the United States, India, and China.
In the United States, grants aim to assist the United States to meet its own responsibilities to address climate change and reduce emissions by supporting efforts that help:
- Place a price on carbon.
- Reduce methane emissions, especially from development and production of oil and natural gas.
- Alter the fuel mix for electricity generation by decreasing reliance on fossil fuels and increasing the use of renewable sources.
- Implement bilateral and international agreements with key developing countries on policies or programs to address climate issues.
To enable and assist India’s demonstrated and growing leadership on climate change, initial grantmaking supports efforts that:
- Improve the capacity of non-governmental organizations to engage with the Indian government on climate policy.
- Build support for an emissions trading scheme.
- Catalyze renewable energy production by filling critical knowledge gaps.
- Encourage clean technology adoption through targeted capacity building.
Initial grantmaking to support and strengthen China’s leadership on climate change include efforts that:
- Invest in tools, data, and policies to support a robust carbon emissions trading market.
- Advance implementation of environmental laws and regulations to incentivize a low-carbon economy.
- Build confidence in the China-India bilateral relationship and promote information sharing.
- Identify the metrics, approaches, and policies related to the Belt-Road Initiative that will result in more sustainable and less carbon-intensive infrastructure investments.
Current and future grants will promote efforts within and between the United States, China, and India, among other nations, for leadership, policy development, best practices, and innovations designed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
While we are not accepting unsolicited proposals at this time, we are always eager to hear new ideas and perspectives.
Measurement and Evaluation for Learning
The measurement and evaluation of the Climate Solutions initiative includes questions that (1) test our theory of change and underlying assumptions, (2) assess our activities, and (3) measure the extent to which we have met our intended outcomes in the United States, India, and China. From measurement and evaluation we expect to learn the extent to which the Foundation’s strategy and investments contribute to stabilizing the pace of greenhouse gas emissions growth in developing countries and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
Evaluations will be published below as they are completed.
Updated May 2019