Crowdfunding for Effective Climate Policy

by HaukeHillebrandt1 min read25th May 201932 comments


Policy ChangeClimate Change

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, 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: