Philanthropists raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for groundbreaking Climate Emergency Fund

"In order to tackle the problem, we need to first define it accurately and force our leaders to declare a climate emergency."

Image Credit: Lorie Shaull/Flickr/cc

Some of the wealthy are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to climate activism. A group of US philanthropists has created a Climate Emergency Fund (CEF) to help fund climate activists groups that are working hard for climate justice.

So far Trevor Neilson, an investor and philanthropist, Rory Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy, and Aileen Getty, whose family is in the oil industry, have raised over $600,000. The group plans to raise at least 100 times that over the next several months.

The philanthropists have a wide range of wealthy contacts across the globe that they plan to appeal to for donations. They have already pledged support to the Extinction Rebellion and the School Strike for Climate movement.

“This might be the single best chance we have to stop the greatest emergency we have ever faced,” Neilson told The Guardian.

The Climate Emergency fund includes environmental activists, such as Bill McKibben of, as part of its advisory board.

Neilson says that most of the wealthy philanthropists around the globe have not yet caught on to the fact that climate change needs to be addressed boldly now. “The world’s biggest philanthropists are still in a gradualist mindset,” Neilson said. “We do not have time for gradualism.”

Neilson decided to take more a more aggressive role in fighting climate change after he was directly affected by a climate change disaster last year. Neilson and his wife and child had to flee their home in California during the state’s deadly wildfires.

“In order to tackle the problem, we need to first define it accurately and force our leaders to declare a climate emergency,” says the CEF website.

The CEF “provides support to individuals and organizations who demonstrate the intention and capability of disrupting the inadequate and immoral gradual approach governments around the world are taking to addressing the climate emergency.” Support comes at three levels:

Level 1: Activist start up package, including funding for printed materials and other supplies necessary for grassroots climate activists.

Level 2: Organizational developed funding for climate activist groups who have grown beyond the startup phase.

Level 3: Operational funding for climate activists and organizations who have reached a state of maturity.

The CEF has also partnered with the Robert F Kennedy Center to provide legal protection activists fighting for climate justice.


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