Climate + Poverty

Advancing Climate Solutions

The Climate + Poverty initiative identifies and supports opportunities to confront climate change in ways that align with our mission to alleviate global poverty. By applying a rigorous approach to working at the intersection of climate and poverty, we are developing a base of knowledge about solutions that address two major world crises.

King Philanthropies is investing in a variety of organizations that operate within that intersectional space. A signature element of this work is the King Climate Action Initiative (K-CAI), a joint effort of King Philanthropies and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT. The goal of K-CAI is to design, test, and evaluate interventions that simultaneously address climate change and poverty. K-CAI also works with decisionmakers to catalyze the scaling of high-impact, evidence-based policy solutions.

Climate change threatens the well-being of everyone on the planet. But it poses an especially acute threat to people in extreme poverty (defined as living on less than $1.90 a day). Today, 2 billion people live in or near poverty. By 2030, according to an estimate by the United Nations, climate change will not only push an additional 100 million people into extreme poverty but also displace more than 200 million people worldwide.

We see an opportunity to connect two distinct fields within the social sector. Climate change funders focus mainly on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in high-emitting countries. Global development funders, meanwhile, focus mainly on improving the lives of the people who live in the world’s poorest regions. Relatively few funders are investing in climate mitigation efforts that will specifically target those who live in extreme poverty.

Today, of course, people who live in poverty are not a major source of climate change-causing emissions. Even so, building a low-carbon pathway to prosperity for that population will be critical to achieving the dual goals of alleviating poverty and limiting the increase in global temperatures.

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