What are the most effective organizations fighting climate change?
July 29, 2021 9:31 PM   Subscribe

I am thinking about where best to contribute my money, time or energy. This can be at any level, from global all the way down to local. I happen to live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, but I am open to groups working anywhere.
posted by NotLost to Work & Money (10 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should have Googled first. I just found this research-based article.

But those organizations seem like groups to donate to, not to volunteer with. I am still interested in your input.
posted by NotLost at 10:26 PM on July 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

It gets into philosophy of economics, but I would think that donating, in general, would be much more effective than volunteering. Because people specialize in their skillset, you working an extra hour in your day job, and donating that money, would likely have orders or magnitude more impact than you working as a laborer somehow.
posted by bbqturtle at 5:30 AM on July 30, 2021

Best answer: Citizen's Climate Lobby is extremely effective at organizing volunteers to push for carbon pricing in the US (in the form of fee and dividend). They have local chapters where you can get involved by writing letters to the editor, meeting with local up to national representatives, etc. - and they provide training. If you're even somewhat inclined towards writing and/or building connections, that's IMO one of the most efficient ways you can volunteer (and also a good place to donate). Carbon pricing is the "umbrella" solution we need to allow the market to appropriately value the impact of climate change - it encompasses effects on technology development, individual action, local policies, etc.
posted by cogitron at 5:57 AM on July 30, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: BBQturtle -- It's likely that I will do both: volunteer and donate money. ... And I am not eligible for overtime pay.
posted by NotLost at 6:28 AM on July 30, 2021

Sunshine movement + justice democrats + bail funds and legal fees for anyone doing direct action/environmental protests.
posted by congen at 7:35 AM on July 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It really depends on what you value, but I think Sierra Club is the most effective national organization (disclosure, I used to work for them, though I've worked with other climate/enviro orgs I would not recommend). They have a very strong track record of success (including effectively killing coal) because they hire organizers on the local level as well as policy analysts and lobbyists on the federal level. Since climate change requires both, Sierra Club is very effective. You would be able to volunteer locally, though donations cannot be earmarked for the local chapter, except during specific drives.

That said, I think the best thing is to find a local organization, as your time and money will go a long way there. I can't help you there, though honestly, you might even ask the local Sierra Club organizer/chapter for recommendations. If you approach them the right way they'll probably be happy to offer you their thoughts, as they will be working closely with most of the local orgs.
posted by lunasol at 12:20 PM on July 30, 2021

I share your concern. How about Drawdown.org's recommendations for a personal action plan?
posted by olopua at 1:29 PM on July 30, 2021

Best answer: I recommend two orgs: Climate Reality Project (I chair a committee in my local chapter) and Extinction Rebellion.

CRP was founded by Al Gore and trains you on how to talk about the climate crisis with audiences big and small. In our local chapter, we do beach cleanups and tons of lobbying/public comment. We've led the push to get our local school district to switch to 100% renewable energy, planted hundreds of trees, advocated for green legislation, and rallied to stop the use of fossil fuels.

XR does a lot of actions - many theatrical and artistic. Both feed my soul and keep the existential dread at bay.
posted by acridrabbit at 1:35 PM on July 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In lieu of recommendations for specific orgs, I have some broader suggestions:
  • It's worth figuring out how much faith you have in market-based solutions, and how this will affect your donating and volunteering. Would you prefer to be involved in an organization that full-throatedly supports them, supports them with reservations, sees them as a partial and compromised solution, totally rejects market-based solutions?
  • Local chapters of national organizations vary wildly, and may also diverge from the national party line in important ways. If you work under the umbrella of a large organization or movement like the Citizen's Climate Lobby (which I like!), Sierra Club, or Extinction Rebellion (I have reservations about these last two), you obviously should support the high-level goals. But seeing whether you're compatible with the local chapters is equally, if not more, important. And you really can't get this information online. You'll likely have to show up to a few meetings and see how you feel.
Note that you don't need to know these answers now. My experience looking for Effective Organizations for An Important Cause is that, the more I got involved, the more my views shifted on what an "effective" organization was, and I ended up moving away from some groups and towards others. If you're the kind of person who is easily plagued by regret about doing the wrong, ineffective thing, I want to say now: it is part of your growth as a climate activist.

A few thoughts on types of organizations:

I am not familiar with the Alberquerque area, but I would suggest you look for local Indigenous organizations, especially if you are critical of market-based solutions and are interested in intersectional environmental justice.

Regarding national organizations, I'd like to bring up a Naomi Klein interview that was published in the Guardian, where she argues that 'Big green groups are more damaging than climate deniers'. It's from 2013, but many of the ideas are still relevant. National organizations like the Sierra Club are doing incredible work and also flawed work—focusing a lot on national palatability and market solutions. This TIME piece, 'How the Sierra Club Took Millions From the Natural Gas Industry—and Why They Stopped' outlines some of the tensions with the Sierra Club's prior support of natural gas and fracking, and how resistance from local Sierra chapters pushed the national organization to cut financial ties with the natural gas industry.

I bring this up not to attack the Sierra Club recommendation (as their position on fracking has shifted), but to illustrate my earlier points re: your personal interest in market-based solutions, and the importance of finding the right local fit, especially when volunteering.
posted by w-w-w at 3:28 AM on July 31, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you for the thoughtful replies. I am already a member of Sierra Club, and will contribute more to them or another group.
posted by NotLost at 9:22 PM on July 31, 2021

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