climate change Posts

The response to climate change: apparently it’s up to the little guys

It’s looking unlikely that the U.S. government is going to take serious action on climate change any time soon.

Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that the Senate wouldn’t consider a significant climate bill before their upcoming summer recess. This doesn’t leave much time before the November elections, in which Republicans are expected to make big gains.

This lack of political will in the U.S., the questionable actions by multinational institutions in the name of fighting climate change, and the failure of the global climate negotiations in Copenhagen show that the world can’t leave the response to this grave challenge to big fixes.

As Mari Kuraishi, Co-Founder and President of GlobalGiving, and I write in a white paper, this is a global problem, but the response, for most–particularly in developing communities–will be at a local level.  Social entrepreneurs, local leaders and community-based organizations have a great opportunity to not just “leapfrog the dirtier phases of development” as President Obama has said, but to blaze new, globally responsible paths to socioeconomic prosperity.

For this approach to sustainable development to work, there must be an effective translation of demand for these solutions to those on the ground. What is needed are clear metrics that allow donors, but perhaps even more critically–the social entrepreneurs–to  understand how changes at the local level can translate to this hitherto unknown path to development. This has the potential to harness currently decentralized resources and creativity for this huge challenge.

GlobalGiving’s Green Score is a first attempt at such a metric.  The Green Score evaluates our projects’ climate attributes, as well as a range of aspects of sustainable development.

The score is highly weighted on “additionality,” or how much benefit the project will bring that wouldn’t have happened otherwise and how much additional impact donors’ dollars will facilitate.

It also rewards projects for things like including women in planning and implementation—the importance of which is being more widely recognized.

We are currently holding a Green Open Challenge exclusively for organizations who are new to GlobalGiving and have passed our green assessment. You can support these organizations as they lead the grassroots response to climate change at

Read the full White Paper on Green.

Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer at GlobalGiving.

A New Shade of Generosity

We’re launching a new “shade” of GlobalGiving today – GlobalGiving Green.

GlobalGiving Green looks at development through a green lens – and vice versa, for that matter – and enables you to support projects that are fighting poverty and dealing with climate change at the same time.

Why are we doing this? The developing world faces a double whammy. Pretty much every country in the developed world has gotten to where they are through a carbon-intensive path, which if repeated would cancel out any other efforts to combat climate change. And developing countries are more likely to bear the consequences of global warming—things like flooding and droughts, or increased incidence of diseases like malaria. And there are indirect societal and political impacts too – Nicholas Kristof wrote about one of the more unusual ones earlier this year, linking unusual levels of rainfall in rural Tanzania to more women being accused of witchcraft.

So, we partnered with EcoSecurities, a leader in emissions reductions markets, to evaluate how projects are doing with regard to climate change, and in areas such as providing sustainable economic growth, aiding the culture and environment of a community, educating future generations on green issues, and more. Twenty-four projects were initially selected to be a part of GlobalGiving Green, and on the website you can see how they do on elements ranging from use of innovative technology to creation of additional health and safety benefits. And we’re working with our amazing Project Leaders to help them understand how their proposed solutions to big societal issues can build a carbon-neutral path to development.

It’s a small (but first) step toward creating a market-based incentive for green development to thrive. Through GlobalGiving Green, we hope people concerned with climate change can more easily find the best solutions for creating positive change, developing responsibly, and reducing harmful emissions.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

It’s Not Easy Being Green (Or offsetting carbon emissions)

Our fearless leader (Dennis, not Dixon) often talks about how energized he feels after trips to California.  The GlobalGiving team makes it out to the left coast fairly often due to many funding and partner relationships, and this week it was my turn to spend a few days in the Bay area.

Maybe it’s all this mid-February California sunshine getting to my head (such a welcome break from the icy east coast!), but I’ve found myself agreeing with Dennis on the California vibe-full of energy, optimism, inspiration, and a sense of what’s possible.

I’m here in San Francisco attending the Carbon Forum America conference-one of the largest gatherings in North America related to climate change and carbon markets.  You don’t have to be Al Gore to know that climate change is one of the largest and most serious problems facing society today, and without a similarly large and serious response to turn this ship around we could find ourselves in a heap of trouble.

But when faced with such a daunting threat looming over our shoulders, how can any one of us know what to do, or if any actions we could take will have an effect on such a huge problem?  Can CFL light bulbs, driving a Prius, purchasing carbon offsets, or calling Congress actually dig us out of this global warming hole we find ourselves in?

I stayed with a good friend in Berkeley on Sunday night before the conference and I asked him about what it was like living there.  “It makes it easy – to ride my bike, buy local food, carpool to work, or use alternative energy sources – because these things are available and supported by the community.”

And while GlobalGiving isn’t exactly available at your local farmer’s market, I connected his point to the work we’re doing with supporting international projects.  By making solutions available, and easy to find and support, it can drive people to take action that they might not otherwise feel empowered or inspired to take.

Although the prospect of climate change is scary, a speaker today pointed out that one benefit of needing to address climate change is the power to force new levels of cooperation between people across national or international boundaries.  And finding these collective solutions will drive new levels of business creativity, entrepreneurship, problem solving, and empathy.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers about the climate change monkey on our back, but I am excited that-like health care, education, technology, and women’s rights – it is a global issue that uniquely impacts developing countries, and GlobalGiving is hoping to provide donors with even more impactful ways of addressing climate change in the coming months.  By providing climate change solutions that our community can support, we just might uncover some powerful new strategies for change.

Stay tuned…