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MacArthur Foundation puts $50M toward boosting U.S. climate leadership

  • The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is giving $50 million in grants to support U.S. action on climate change.
  • MacArthur says the grants represent an ‘initial investment’ on the issue and that China and India may be future priorities.
  • The MacArthur Foundation is one of America’s largest and most influential philanthropic organizations.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today announced a major new initiative to push U.S. leaders to take action on climate change.

MacArthur is giving $50 million in grants to several organizations working to convince political, business, and philanthropic leaders in the United States to “continue and accelerate U.S. greenhouse gas reductions, increase and sustain U.S. political consensus for climate action, and provide incentives for a low-carbon economy,” according to a statement issued by the foundation.

“The United States needs to lead by example to be a credible partner with other nations in addressing climate change,” said Jorgen Thomsen, Director of MacArthur’s Conservation and Sustainable Development program, in a press release. “As the most significant historic producer of greenhouse gasses, the United States has a particular responsibility to lead the effort toward a global low-carbon economy.”

“Climate change, and its global disruption, threatens to undermine virtually everything we care about as human beings, from quality of life to the economy, from poverty to peace and security,” added MacArthur Foundation President Julia Stasch. “Global climate disruption will have a profoundly negative impact on how humans live and work. That’s why we need effective international leadership and cooperation that bring about sufficient and measurable results.”

Recipients of funds include Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the ClimateWorks Foundation, the Energy Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, the Sierra Club, ecoAmerica, and the Carbon Disclosure Project.

MacArthur says the grants represent an “initial investment” on the issue. The foundation indicates that future investments may look at supporting similar objectives in India and China.

The MacArthur Foundation is one of America’s largest and most influential philanthropic organizations. In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, the foundation gave out nearly 500 grants amounting to $231 million.

Redwood tree in California. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Disclosure: the MacArthur Foundation provided a grant to Mongabay.org in 2014 to support reporting on issues in the Amazon. Mongabay is not involved in MacArthur’s climate initiative.