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Best Global Warming NGOs?
Alex Steffen, 3 Apr 06

Ally Caterina Fake wrote this weekend with a good question. "So, I am really worried about global warming," she said, "and I want to know which non-profit would be best for me to contribute funds to address the issue (and I figured you'd know)."

My answer was that in North America, it seems to be the local and regional groups which are both doing the most inspiring work and most need the funds. For instance, the Northwest's leading climate NGO, Climate Solutions, is doing great work not only on educating the public but on getting nuts-and-bolts reforms to favor wind farms, biofuels and smart grids. Also, it looks like these local/regional groups are increasingly cohering into a networked movement to create national change in the U.S. and Canada.

But I certainly don't know every group out there, much less who's doing particularly great work. What groups do you guys think are worth kudos (and cash)?

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OK, full disclosure: I work for Greenpeace International in Amsterdam. But even if I didn't, I'd put them up there in the ranks of the worthy.

For starters, they were talking about this issue in the late 80s with a "Fossil Fuel Free Future" that was ahead of its time. They did some important work internationally putting the issue out there. In the intervening they:

Created a pressure campaign that got Coke, McDonalds and Unilever to switch their refrigeration methods away from CFCs:

Partnered with industry to create "Greenfreeze" CFC-free refrigeration:

Lobbyed the World Business Council into a pro-Kyoto position against the will of the US members:

Greenpeace may not be the new cool in environmental advocacy (I note they don't even get a link in the sidebar here at WorldChanging), but in a world in which the nuclear industry's advertising budget alone is (way) bigger than their annual budget, they're still boxing above their weight.

Personally, I'd split my donations between Greenpeace (think global) and smaller local groups doing the nuts and bolts work to ensure renewables are on a level playing field with big oil, that consumers get incentives to buy green, and that your own power isn't coming from nuclear or coal.

Here endeth the sermon. ;-)


Posted by: Brian on 3 Apr 06

Indeed, most of the best work is done at local level. In particular because it's easier for NGOs to work on national climate policies.

Examples of these coalitions (cannot call them 'movements' yet), can be the Climate Action Network, A worldwide network of over 340 NGOs, the Climate Justice initiative, the UK Stop Climate Chaos coalition, and the Dutch Hier project.
There are more of these around and usually transcend the individual NGO campaign work.

Indymedia Climate has also a directory of organisations working on Climate Justice.

Posted by: gillo on 4 Apr 06

I agree that local and regional groups get a lot done, and I would add land conservation organizations - for several reasons.

First, these groups are keeping natural habitat intact and restoring land to native habitat and species. Land kept open is land that is not reflecting heat back into the atmosphere, has plants which hold carbon, reducing carbon loading, and allow for stormwater infiltration, reducing the heating and polluting of streams and rivers.

Second, many of these groups are protecting land strategically so that environmental corridors are maintained or created. These corridors include waterways, connected tracts of open land, large blocks of forest, etc. They provide "escape" routes for species to migrate along as their local habitat changes with global warming.

Land conservation work, educational programs, advocacy work, and development of incentives for renewable energy sources are all elements of the overall strategy to reduce the impacts of fossil fuel use over the past century.

For a list of land conservation groups, check out

Posted by: Karen on 4 Apr 06

Local stuff is all good, but there are other NGOs which work at the problem from the top down. Working directly with policymakers and corporations to change their behaviour can have a very large impact which complements grassroots campaigns.

I work on climate change projects with the World Economic Forum, and here are a few teams we work with to promote better policy and business practice:

Carbon Disclosure Project:
Pew Center on Climate Change:
The Climate Group:
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
World Resources Institute:

Additionally, there are other US-based groups I personally support the work of:

Natural Resources Defense Council: The NRDC Climate Center was created in 2001 to break the logjam in U.S. climate policy.

California Climate Action Registry: CCAR was established by California statute as a non-profit voluntary registry for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Registry encourages voluntary actions to increase energy efficiency and decrease GHG emissions.

Hope this helps!

Posted by: Randall on 5 Apr 06

aw, i was going to say climate solutions too--- alex beat me to it. Rhys Roth is amazing!!!

Posted by: lee on 5 Apr 06

For Americans interested in contributing their time and voices, not just $$, to the NGO-led efforts, consider participating in a weekend-long training and organizing workshop sponsored by the Green House Network, like the one planned for Boulder, Colorado this June 2-4.

These training workshops are FREE TO STUDENTS and modest expense for others. Who should attend?

All folks concerned about global warming and interested in stopping a proposed new generation of dirty coal plants. The workshop will provide the perspective of experienced activists on how to work with the media, the legal system, and grassroots organizing to build the clean energy movement and anti-coal plant campaigns. Past participants have included artists, engineers, students, clergy members, retirees, nurses, architects, college professors, and scientists.

Like all GHN workshops, this one is run in collaboration with a local Colorado NGO, Clean Energy Action.

Posted by: Ted on 5 Apr 06

NRDC, to me, is the best environmental organization in the world. If you want to make a large contribution, you might do it there. If you have a smaller contribution in mind, it might make more of a difference at Greenhouse Network, which also does very fine work. Eban Goodstein, its Volunteer Executive Director, when he is not writing valuable books on environmental economics and other important topics in his role as a Professor at Lewis & Clark University, among other things organizes very fine training weekends around the country, in which people are taught a whole lot about global warming, how to speak effectively on the subject, and about running a successful campaign in the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Charles Church
New York, NY

Posted by: Charles Church on 5 Apr 06

Greenhouse Netwrok is a fantastic group. They do a weekend training that I found to be really clear & dynamic. Their members are committed to progress on the issue, organizing & getting the word out; also they are inspiring, great to connect with, and a lot of fun. GHN deserves support & attention!

Posted by: Kim Knowlton on 5 Apr 06

I am the 100% volunteer webmaster for Greenhouse Network, a network member and public speaker on global warming.

We have been working hard on a shoestring budget for several years. Our executive director is a volunteer and we have no paid staff.

A donation to the network, which is a qualified 501(c)3 will allow us to provide reduced rate or free tuition to folks who want to help spread the word about stopping global warming.

Since we have virtually zero overhead, we give donors a lot of bang for their buck.

Join the network, get trained and get the word out.



Posted by: Ron Castle on 5 Apr 06

Why not both local and international? ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability is an international, UN-chartered nonprofit that serves local governments (who are so often the ones who put the things into practice that end up making a difference) so that no one has to reinvent the wheel to implement climate saving measures in their communities. They offer tools and consulting services to help each member city or county tailor their climate plan to their individual needs, and they have member cities all around the globe so that they can bring in good ideas from everywhere. They are also experts at designing politically palatable climate plans that show even the most conservative of voters how preventing climate change saves everyone money, so they are very effective in actually getting changes made. In the ten years since their charter, they have caused over 20 million tons of greenhouse gases to be not produced.

Posted by: Brittni on 5 Apr 06

If you are interested in supporting efforts to fight climate change on a national and global scale, across all levels of influence...from on the ground conservation efforts, to public engagament, business partnerships and government advocacy work I'd suggest considering WWF.

It is a complex issue as we all know, requiring a credible and scientific-based response. It is also a global issue needing a global solution with contributions and commitment particulary from the developed countries. WWF has long been an instrumental environmental player on the international political negotiations scene since the early days of Kyoto, and continues to work politically across its network of offices across 90 countries that work on climate and energy issues. This world-wide conservation organisation has on-the-ground conservation and scientific staff in vulnerable regions in the South Pacfiic, South Amercia, the Carribean and Asia developing projects to cope with the impacts of climate change and help inform effective policy responses.

A range of large businesses including Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Polaroid Corporation, Nike, and Lafarge have joined WWF in efforts to reduce their impact via the Climate Savers Program - - and working with HSBC and the Carbon Disclosure Project to facilitate the right decisions in low-carbon investments by financial istitutions.

WWF is working in Asia-Pacific and Europe to engage the public for a cleaner power sector in our Powerswitch campaigns - www. They also are a founding member of the UK coalition of organisations and local groups for building a climate movement - Stop Climate Chaos,

I agree think local and global, as WWF continues to put into practice. will take you to the international website and activities and you can find out what each national office is doing from there...

Posted by: Nicola on 9 Apr 06



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