The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and global warming

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In April 2007 the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) launched a Climate Change Initiative as part of its environment program. On its website, the DDCF states that the five-year $100 million Climate Change Initiative "seeks to help build a clean-energy economy through grants that design optimal pricing policies for greenhouse gases, design and promote policies that accelerate the deployment and development of clean-energy technologies, and identify ways to adapt to climate change."[1]

Grantmaking priorities

On its website the DDCF explicitly states that it will not fund "political organizing, 'constituency building' or public education campaigns on climate change", "marketing efforts to promote particular 'green' or clean-energy businesses and industries", "basic or applied science or research related to technology development" or "technology demonstration projects".

In an interview published in the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers newsletter, DDCF's President Joan Spero explained that in the initial stages of planning its climate change initiative the foundation contacted other foundations. "We learned that many of them have been and remain focused on what we refer to as "constituency building" — working to inform and inspire the public, and generate support for political action on climate change. The fact that many other funders were taking this approach influenced our decision to fund the design of specific policies to promote clean-energy technology, which is complementary and essential work that we learned was not being funded at an adequate level. We want to be sure that when society does decide to take action, the best possible policies are there, on the shelf, fully vetted and ready to be implemented," Spero said.[2]

Instead it states that it will only fund projects on an invitation-only basis that fall within one of three "strategies". These are[3]:

  • Design Optimal Pricing Policies for Greenhouse Gases: "This strategy will support analytical work to inform the design of optimal domestic and international pricing policies for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which will help existing and new clean-energy technologies become competitive in the marketplace."
  • Deploy & Develop Clean-Energy Technologies: "This strategy will support the development of policies that bring available technologies to market more quickly – particularly technologies related to energy efficiency, renewable energy and low-emission uses of coal. This strategy also will support policies that stimulate the development of tomorrow's clean-energy technologies."
  • Identify Ways to Adapt to Climate Change: "This strategy will support efforts to assess the likely effects of climate change and identify adjustments that can be made to reduce the impact of detrimental effects."

2007 grants

By the end of 2007, the DDCF had approved 12 grants totaling approximately $31 million as a part of its Climate Change Initiative.[3]

The initial round of projects funded were:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $500,000 over 2 years "To support a project based at MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research to help inform the U.S. policymaking process related to climate change by analyzing the European Union’s carbon dioxide Emissions Trading Scheme, options for limiting the economic burden of a federal regulatory regime, and options for harmonizing federal climate policies with evolving state and regional policies."
  • Pew Center on Global Climate Change, $395,000 over 1 year "To produce Congressional briefing books on key design questions regarding U.S. climate policy, including the design elements of a cap-and-trade system and other key, complementary policies such as those related to coal use, transportation, carbon taxes and technology."
  • Resources for the Future $750,000 over 2 years "To support work by RFF’s Climate and Technology Policy Program to research and write papers on the attributes, strengths and weaknesses of various climate policy design elements; conduct an in-depth quantification of the costs of carbon-control policies on various industry sectors, along with an assessment of policy options for ameliorating those costs; and assist in the development of a proposed post-2012 international framework for addressing climate change that will be acceptable to the U.S."
  • World Resources Institute $750,000 over 2 years "To support the work of WRI’s Climate and Energy Program to demonstrate the need for a mandatory federal greenhouse gas registry that is consistent with global greenhouse gas accounting standards; inform the debate regarding various climate policy design elements through the production of issue briefs and communication efforts; and identify ways to integrate climate impacts and opportunities into the national energy security debate."
  • Bipartisan Policy Center, $490,000 over 1.5 years "To support work by the National Commission on Energy Policy to determine a feasible mix of low-carbon technologies for the U.S. and recommend policy changes to facilitate their development and deployment."
  • Carnegie Mellon University $1,850,000 over 2.5 years "to enable a team of investigators at Carnegie Mellon, University of Minnesota, Vermont Law School and other institutions to work with a wide range of stakeholders and experts to design a regulatory structure for the capture, transport and deep geological sequestration of carbon dioxide in the United States." (See the CCS Reg article on the project).
  • Clean Air Task Force, $845,000 over 1.5 years "To create a strategy for investing in public and private research, development and demonstration of technologies that use coal for power generation without adding appreciably to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, with a focus on innovative gasification and post-combustion capture pathways. A sub-grant to the Climate Policy Center of Clean Air-Cool Planet will enable that organization to develop specific recommendations for implementing ARPA-E, a recently authorized federal agency aimed at accelerating transformational advances in energy technology."
  • Energy Foundation, $21 million over 3 years "To support the Energy Foundation’s work in four areas: developing efficient building codes and building technologies in the U.S.; transforming U.S. utility regulation to make efficiency profitable and create vibrant markets for renewable energy; greening China’s building boom; and supporting the Energy Foundation’s core U.S. programs to build strategic flexibility."
  • Harvard University, $1,460,000 over 3 years "To support work by the Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government to develop policy recommendations for an expanded U.S. federal energy-technology innovation endeavor; evaluate the U.S. federal energy research, development, and demonstration budget on an annual basis; and assess energy technology innovation activities in the private sector of the United States, as well as in the public and private sectors of China, India, Japan and Europe."
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology $1,987,000 over 2 years "To support a comprehensive assessment by the MIT Industrial Performance Center of the energy technology innovation system in the United States, including recommendations for improvements to federal and state research, development and demonstration policies, as well as mechanisms for early adoption and large-scale deployment of supply and demand-side innovations."

Contact details

DDCF Headquarters & Grantmaking Programs
650 Fifth Avenue, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10019
Phone (212) 974-7000
Fax (212) 974-7590

Resources and articles


  1. Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Foundation, "Environment", Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Foundation website, accessed May 2008.
  2. "Doris Duke Going Green: Joan Spero, President, and Andrew Bowman, Director of the Climate Change Initiative, Broach the Battle Against Global Warming", NYRAG Memo, New York Regional Association of Grantmakers, April 2008, page 26.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Foundation, "Climate change", Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Foundation website, accessed May 2008.

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