The funding campaign behind ClimateWorks and the Energy Foundation

The Energy Foundation and ClimateWorks stand out as the twin engines of the campaign against fossil fuels

July 02, 2014

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The following article complements an investigation by Vivian Krause uncovering the foreign-funded nature of Canada’s green movement. Return to The Great, Green Trade Barrier

While the climate movement has broad-based financial support from a large number of donors, two organizations stand out as the twin engines of the campaign against fossil fuels: the Energy Foundation and ClimateWorks.

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The Energy Foundation pursues what it calls “campaign-style grantmaking” towards four goals:

  1. to shift the U.S. economy away from “yesterday’s fossil fuel technologies,”
  2. to create jobs,
  3. to improve public health and
  4. to make the world more secure.

As its own words reveal, the Energy Foundation’s mandate goes beyond the protection of the environment to encompass economic and national security interests.

ClimateWorks is, to some extent, a global version of the Energy Foundation. These sister organizations promote renewable energy and energy efficiency and have worked extensively to promote fuel efficiency standards in the U.S., Europe and China.

Back in the early 1990s, the Energy Foundation was created with a 10-year, US$100- million commitment from three large American foundations: the Rockefeller Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the MacArthur Foundation. When grants from the founding donors tapered off at the end of the millennium, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Sea Change Foundation and others emerged as significant new donors.

Sea Change is funded by Nathaniel Simons and James Simons, the founder of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund. Sea Change grants roughly US$50 million annually for promoting clean energy and energy efficiency in order to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

ClimateWorks was created in 2008 with a US$100-million-per-year commitment from the Hewlett Foundation. The Packard Foundation provides it with grants of an additional US$66 million per year. As such, ClimateWorks has a monthly budgetary capacity of roughly US$13 million – that’s monthly, not annually. Since 2008, these two foundations have granted more than US$1 billion to ClimateWorks and the Energy Foundation.

Between 2009 and 2011, ClimateWorks re-granted US$324 million to 66 organizations. By my analysis, 95 per cent of ClimateWorks’ grants went to 15 organizations. The top recipient was the Energy Foundation, which over three years collected grants worth US$190 million. This means that the Energy Foundation is heavily funded by the Hewlett Foundation and the Packard Foundation, both directly and indirectly, through ClimateWorks.

Over the past decade, the Energy Foundation’s total annual revenue has increased tenfold to US$103 million (2012), up from US$10 million in the 1990s.

Revenue at ClimateWorks increased more than twofold to US$170 million in 2012, up from US$83 million the year before.

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One Response to “The funding campaign behind ClimateWorks and the Energy Foundation”


  1. Angela says:

    Why aren’t these people protesting in Iran, Iraq, Dubai, S. America? Why just the Oil sands where they have to follow strict regulations and where workers are paid well and the environment takes precedent? New technology is being developed all the time and the negative impacts on the Oil Sands are negligible.

    You can get away with protesting here but you can’t there – we’re an easy target.

    Why aren’t you guys protesting in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, etc., etc? You know why? Because you’re all GUTLESS, HYPOCRITES! That’s why.