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Climate concern: philanthropists give generously

climateconcern.jpgPhilanthropic institutions in the United States more than tripled their support for climate-related causes in 2008 relative to the previous year, reports Laura Thompson Osuri today on Nature news.

The findings come from the Foundation Center, a New York-based organization that supports philanthropies. In total, donations shot up from a 2007 total of US$240 million to $897 million in 2008, and covered a wide variety of activities. Some examples of initiatives funded in 2008 include research by Stanford scientists into adapting agriculture for a warmer climate and work by a Wang Lan, a materials scientist at the China Building Materials Academy in Beijing, on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from cement production.

The vast majority of the increase in funding in 2008 came from a single source: the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, California, which gave a one-off contribution of $500 million to ClimateWorks, a group of organizations that aims to limit annual global emissions of greenhouse gases by 30 billion tons (gigatons) by 2030.

None of the foundations contacted by Nature would divulge their planned contributions for 2010. Because Hewlett will not repeat its $500-million, one-time donation, however, the total foundation support for climate-related causes is likely to drop from its 2008 high, reports Thompson Osuri.

Steven Lawrence, the director of research for the Foundation Center, says that he expects funding this year to surpass the 2007 amount. “My expectation is to continue to see growth in giving," says Lawrence.

The full news story is freely accessible here.

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