Crowdfunding for Effective Climate Policy

I’m the co-founder of Let’s Fund is an effec­tive al­tru­ism crowd­fund­ing site, that helps peo­ple dis­cover and fund high-im­pact re­search and policy pro­jects.

We just launched a cam­paign to raise $2 mil­lion for the Clean En­ergy In­no­va­tion Pro­gram at the In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion Foun­da­tion (ITIF), a top-ranked US think tank, to work on cli­mate change policy.

The pro­gram is led by Pro­fes­sor David Hart and Dr. Colin Cun­liff whose policy re­search fo­cuses on the effec­tive­ness of higher and smarter clean en­ergy R&D spend­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing this to policy-mak­ers.

We have done hun­dreds of hours of re­search based on the prin­ci­ples of effec­tive al­tru­ism and be­lieve that this is the most effec­tive way to donate to com­bat cli­mate change. Why?

You can read our in-depth anal­y­sis at​Clean-En­ergy, but briefly:

Ad­vanced economies like the US and EU are pri­ori­tiz­ing re­duc­ing their own emis­sions. But by 2040, 75% of all emis­sions will come from emerg­ing economies such as China and In­dia. Only if ad­vanced economies’ cli­mate poli­cies re­duce emis­sions in all coun­tries will we pre­vent dan­ger­ous cli­mate change. The best poli­cies to do this are those that stim­u­late in­no­va­tion and make clean en­ergy tech­nol­ogy cheaper in all coun­tries. We com­pared 10 cli­mate poli­cies that stim­u­late in­no­va­tion (e.g. car­bon taxes, de­ploy­ment sub­sidies, cut­ting fos­sil fuel sub­sidies) and found that in­creas­ing gov­ern­ment bud­gets for pub­lic clean en­ergy re­search and de­vel­op­ment (R&D) is the most effec­tive—even more effec­tive than car­bon taxes.

Public clean en­ergy R&D is ne­glected: only $22 billion is spent per year globally com­pared to $140 billion spent on clean en­ergy de­ploy­ment sub­sidies and trillions spent on en­ergy. Many ad­vanced economies (e.g. U.S., EU) could unilat­er­ally in­crease this sub­stan­tially with­out in­ter­na­tional co­or­di­na­tion—which makes this much more poli­ti­cally tractable than car­bon taxes.

Bet­ter yet, ad­vanced economies can co­or­di­nate spend­ing parts of their GDP on clean en­ergy R&D. Many coun­tries have already done so by sign­ing an in­ter­na­tional ‘Mis­sion In­no­va­tion’ agree­ment, but are not on track to fulfill their pledges.

Donat­ing to this cam­paign might lead coun­tries to get back on track and in­crease clean en­ergy R&D bud­gets.

This would make low-car­bon en­ergy cheaper, car­bon taxes more poli­ti­cally ac­cept­able, and might pre­vent dan­ger­ous cli­mate change.

I’m happy to an­swer any ques­tions about cli­mate policy, the cost-effec­tive­ness of ITIF’s clean en­ergy pro­gram, or Let’s Fund in the com­ments be­low (you can also com­ment on the Google Doc that this cam­paign is based on for spe­cific com­ments).

We have a mu­tual agree­ment of un­der­stand­ing with ITIF (see here) that any dona­tions to ITIF through Let’s Fund will be re­stricted to their Clean En­ergy In­no­va­tion Pro­gram.

You can donate to this cam­paign via Face­book (zero fees, 100% of your dona­tion goes di­rectly to ITIF). I’d be grate­ful if you could then share your dona­tion sta­tus up­date and en­courage oth­ers to donate. Also, if you or some­one you know have ac­cess to a plat­form, such as a big mailing list or some­one with many fol­low­ers on so­cial me­dia, please help us pro­mote this cam­paign.

If you’d like to make a big­ger dona­tion or can get us in touch with peo­ple who you be­lieve might want to donate a big­ger amount, please email us at: