Manny.EA

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Fighting Climate Change with Progressive Activism in the US: CEA

I'm super grateful for the work y'all are doing. It seems likely that a more sophisticated analysis of this topic, in conjunction with the studies that estimate the expected costs of each metric ton of CO2e, may show that a climate activism intervention is one of the most impactful sectors for our donations. This may be particularly true when considering the long-term/existential risks that the economic impact studies neglect. 

If these estimates are in the right ballpark and someone creates the equivalent of a carbon offset credit certificate that the public/corporations find legitimate enough, I think this could funnel a lot of money into far more effective emission reduction schemes than traditional carbon offset programs. Plus, such an offset protocol wouldn't suffer from many of the shortcomings of current offset credit approaches, which most left-leaning people/organizations find too apolitical, unfair, and parochial.

Here are some additional reasons why these figures may be overly conservative on the full benefits of climate activism:

1. Reductions in CO2e are only one direct benefit of reduced fossil fuel emissions. Another well-studied, direct, non-politicized effect of these efforts is the reduction of particulate matter, which Open Philanthropy is considering as one of its high-impact sectors because of its enormous harms on human health. 

2. It seems likely that many of the lowest-hanging fruits in the climate activism fight may have already been achieved in the American context (i.e., the impact of any additional donations may be much lower than the average stated). However, because (1)  a metric ton of CO2e has the same effect regardless of where it is emitted, (2) one can presume a lower cost of activism for any assumed increase in the likelihood of success for any given bill in developing nations (e.g., India), and (3) the highest-impact, lowest-hanging fruits may still be available in developing nations, we can assume that climate activism may have even lower costs in the international context. Further, international areas are even more dependant on particulate-matter-producing coal plants, making their positive impact significantly higher. 

3. These estimates only consider the federal-level effects of climate activism, but the Sunrise Movement's scattered grassroots approach undoubtedly has large effects on local and state climate policies.
 

Super excited for this research to get increasingly sophisticated, to expand to the international context, to include particulate matter, and to be combined with cost estimates that include both short- and long-term risks!