Deciding where to allocate your $ towards climate projects



  • As an individual, where are my dollars most impactful toward combating climate change?

    The best thing I've found so far (which I've posted on other topics) is my local utility company's Green Power program:
    https://www.pse.com/green-options/Renewable-Energy-Programs/renewables-home

    But this isn't enough. I also feel like there must be projects I can donate to that will have more direct impact (per dollar) than me trying to limit my own personal carbon output. So, what all is out there?

    Preferably, these solutions would be things already being deployed in the real world. Research is great and critically needed, but it's hard to see where my dollars go in that space. How about something actually happening right now that just needs more resources and is taking donations?

    If I can find a project I truly believe is making a difference, it would be worth donating an amount that will hurt. I'm sure many others would agree.



  • @mattm I've had similar questions recently. An interesting idea that I came across was instead of donations - which can be hard to track - instead using the money to invest in environmental development projects. One example is the company CoPower, which our own @Lauryn-Drainie is a part of and which allows you to invest in so-called "Green Bonds".

    Money that is invested in green bonds is then allocated towards a diversified portfolio of loans to clean energy and energy efficiency projects. The projects generate steady revenues from the sale of clean energy or energy savings, allowing you to earn competitive fixed returns while reducing carbon emissions. Your dollars could then go further as you keep investing the returns into more climate-positive projects.

    What do you think about that type of idea?



  • That sounds like a great idea! I think to appeal to more people, we'd need an option with a lower barrier to entry (CoPower's minimum is $5000), but personally I'm interested in this and will dig into it over the next couple weeks. Thanks for the suggestion!



  • @Eric-Vanular I noticed CoPower is a Canadian company. Any idea if there's a USA-equivalent? If not...maybe there should be 🙂 upon a quick Google search, I wasn't able to find a USA company that just does that (it's always a bigger bank). Sounds like an opportunity.

    Edit: Looks like I can't use CoPower outside of Canada 😞



  • @mattm I'd imagine something similar exists although I'm not aware of any specific groups. Definitely sounds like an opportunity to me as well... What features of a theoretical offering like this would you want to see?



  • @Eric-Vanular Regarding features, probably hard for me to answer just because I haven't used that kind of service before. At a glance though, CoPower looks good. I wouldn't expect to have any feedback of the service until I used it.

    The obvious strengths I see are:

    • It's clear what this is / who it's for
    • The CTA is very clear; I know how to get started with no mental effort
    • It was easy to find example projects that have been funded, so I can see where my money would go (and there's plenty of detail about each project)
    • I like that their FAQ indicates how they make money too (transparency is appreciated)

    For me, the hardest thing about a service like this is that I'm giving a significant amount of money to a business I can't physically walk into. That requires a bit of trust. Anything the service can do to establish that trust is helpful. It's a big commitment to give $5000 to an online store and just hope that everything works as it should, that it's going where it should go, and that it'll still be around in 5 years when you cash out. I'm not sure how I would solve this trust issue though, either. Frankly, it's the same feeling I have about my 401(k) plan, which I just have to trust will all be ready to cash out decades later.



  • I think I've made a little progress here. I recently saw this article:
    https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/12/2/20976180/climate-change-best-charities-effective-philanthropy

    I've been researching The Coalition for Rainforest Nations and Clean Air Task Force since. I still have a lot of reading to do, but these two organizations look really good in terms of maximizing your dollar.

    If the numbers are even remotely accurate, donations to these organizations are much more effective than what we can do by trying to decarbonize our own lifestyles. Consider The Coalition for Rainforest Nations estimate...the article says the average American emits 16 metric tons of CO2 per year, and this organization can avert that for $1.92 in donations (even if it were 10x or 100x higher in reality, this seems to be the most effective option).

    On the other hand, decarbonizing just my own lifestyle would mean:

    1. Switching to an electric car
    2. Switching from natural gas to electricity in my home
    3. Power my home with clean electricity

    All of that could easily cost up to $100K, and I can't imagine it costing less than $50K. All of those dollars to offset just 16 metric tons of CO2 per year. That still doesn't take into account the amount of garbage I throw away every year (not even sure how to get to zero emissions there) or any supply chain carbon from eating, etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to work to reduce my own individual contribution, but at a more practical (cost-wise) pace...i.e., not fast enough to do my part in averting climate change.

    Thoughts? Criticisms? Going back to my original post here:

    If I can find a project I truly believe is making a difference, it would be worth donating an amount that will hurt.

    I'm working on convincing myself that these organizations are making a difference, then looking forward to confidently donating regularly. Hoping others join me 🙂



  • @mattm Thanks for sharing this information! I've been looking for facts-based information around this for a while



  • @mattm Hey this is great information that I think most people wouldn't intuitively realize. we should start collecting these resources into a "wiki" of sorts for reference.

    @Eric-Vanular any chance you can consider building out a more permanent wiki section for Collective.Energy?



  • @Pascal-Ramsey Absolutely - a more permanent wiki section for vetted resources is actually a work in progress feature for this site! Stay tuned 🙂


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