The International Policies and Politics Initiative

  • Edouard Morena


The Copenhagen collapse exposed some of the core limitations of the strategic approach to philanthropy—in particular, its reluctance to engage in the politics of climate change. Drawing the lessons from their involvement in the COP15, a group of foundations, in collaboration with other members of the international climate community, developed a new approach to philanthropic involvement in the international climate debate: the IPPI. Combining and updating elements from the GCCA and PC initiatives (presented in Chap.  4), IPPI represents a highly sophisticated attempt at reaching a positive outcome at the Paris climate conference (COP21).


COP21 IPPI Climate funders Climate philanthropy Climate negotiations Climate politics 

Believing that the world’s philanthropic foundations, given the scale of their endowments, hold the power to trigger a survival reflex in society, so greatly helping those negotiating the climate treaty; […] We, 160 winners of the world’s environmental prizes, call on foundations and philanthropists everywhere to deploy their endowments urgently in the effort to save civilization.

An appeal to the world’s foundations and philanthropists by the world’s environmental prize winners

Monday, September 15, 2014, International New York Times1


As was previously highlighted, the Copenhagen collapse and derailing of the US cap-and-trade bill led many foundations to reassess their involvement in the climate field, and particularly in the international climate field. Copenhagen was, as the Oak Foundation puts it in its 2010 Annual report, a “reality check” for foundations and NGOs (Oak Foundation 2011). When they did not purely and simply abandon the climate field, many foundations drastically downsized their climate portfolios and programmes, and, in certain cases, reallocated their grants to specific and less risky projects at the subnational or sectorial levels. This strategy mirrored that of numerous NGOs working on the climate issue who abandoned international policy work for more localized and “winnable” battles.

Following an initial period of disillusionment and despair, some within the international climate community, including foundations, tried to make sense of what had happened and why it had happened the way it had. Having done this, a group of foundations proceeded to devise new strategies to secure a new climate regime for the post-2020 period. The 2011–2015 period witnessed renewed engagement on behalf of the foundation community along new lines. As we will see, a large proportion of the funds for international climate activities were channelled through or in support of a single platform and attendant strategy: the International Policies and Politics Initiative (IPPI). Originating in the ECF, the IPPI combined and updated elements of the GCCA and PC and mobilized many of the individuals and foundations that had been involved in both initiatives. This is not surprising given ECF’s close ties to the Oak and ClimateWorks foundations. As its name suggests, IPPI’s originality also lay in its focus on the politics of climate change.

The Reorganization of ClimateWorks Foundation

Given their level of involvement in the Copenhagen process, in 2010 the ClimateWorks Foundation, its funders, regional regranting foundations, best practice networks and partners launched a collective evaluation of PC and their contribution to the climate debate more generally. This led to a reassessment of the ClimateWorks Foundation network’s overarching theory of change and, inter alia, the Design To Win strategy. At the ClimateWorks Foundation Annual Summit in October 2010, approximately 200 participants, representing the breadth of the network, shared their views and discussed the network’s objectives and strategies. On the back of this, ClimateWorks Foundation initiated a network-wide consultation to review experiences and lessons learnt and “reshape and guide the Network’s efforts for the next 10 years” (ECF 2011c, 2).

One of the most noticeable effects was a shift in the power dynamics within the ClimateWorks Foundation network. In particular, the Oak Foundation, as network funder, came to play a more proactive and influential role within it. Among the network’s regional foundations, ECF also came to occupy a more prominent position, especially in the field of international climate diplomacy. As Foundation executive explains, “the Oak foundation played a fundamental role in reshaping ClimateWorks.”2 Up to now, the foundation had limited itself to funding regional climate foundations.3 As we have seen in the preceding chapter, in the run-up to Copenhagen, rather than supporting PC, Oak chose to support the advocacy and capacity building work of the GCCA. Through its heightened involvement in ClimateWorks Foundation, Oak advanced a revised version of the strategic approach that had hitherto guided the ClimateWorks Foundation’s work, and that reflected the strategic approach of large liberal US climate funders like the Hewlett Foundation (through Paul Brest and Hal Harvey).

The Oak Foundation’s greater involvement in the network signalled a shift in the relations between the ClimateWorks Foundation and its regional regranting partners. As one foundation representative explains, relations between the ClimateWorks Foundation and regional foundations “became far less top-down than they used to be. [It] realised that the people on the ground often have a better idea of how to influence what is happening.”4 In line with Oak’s own approach to grantmaking, the ClimateWorks Foundation was encouraged to enhance its collaboration with its regional network and draw on their hands-on knowledge of national and regional dynamics and actors by conceding them greater grantmaking flexibility and strategic oversight. In other words, instead of simply realizing a pre-defined strategy, regional foundations were now expected to more actively contribute to the overall network strategy.

In addition to engaging with a more diverse set of “geographies and communities,” the ClimateWorks Foundation was also expected to “share strategies and knowledge more widely, and support more coordination among funders.”5 As a ClimateWorks Foundation representative explains, “before, the model was too rigid. Organizationally it did not allow for the flexibility that was needed.”6 Instead of going directly to regional regranters, the majority of foundation funds were channelled through the ClimateWorks Foundation. The idea was now to encourage foundations to align their funding but without necessarily going through the ClimateWorks Foundation. As one interviewee explained, ClimateWorks Foundation “stopped being a funnel for its foundations. Foundations could now more freely invest in the climate domain.”7 The hope was of broadening the climate funders community by enabling funders to “pick and choose” their preferred projects. In addition to providing support to its regional and “best practice” networks, the ClimateWorks Foundation’s role was now to help funders to align and coordinate their grants for maximum impact by helping them to identify strategic investment opportunities. As one foundation representative explains, the ClimateWorks Foundation was “more of a coordinator rather than a direct implementer.”8

The European Climate Foundation and International Climate Diplomacy

This internal restructuring of the ClimateWorks Foundation network allowed the ECF to take the lead in the network’s international climate diplomacy activities. The ECF occupies a distinctive position in the ClimateWorks Foundation network. In particular, the ECF recognized the value of strategic communications and capacity building. From its inception, the ECF had also benefited from close relations with the Oak Foundation. The Oak Foundation had played a key role in setting up the ECF in 2008. This contributed to set the ECF apart from other ClimateWorks Foundation network regranters, which, as in the Energy Foundation case, tended to replicate the strategic and US-centric approach of their North American climate funders.

In its contribution to the ClimateWorks Foundation strategic debate, the ECF called for the creation of a “Competence Team on Global Climate Policy” and offered to act as its coordinator. As they explain, “the choice of location in ECF is justified by the significant institutional capacity in ECF, and the leading role that Europe has historically had in advancing international climate policy, building essential trust. In addition, significant knowhow has been built in finance, green growth, and communications” (ECF 2011d, 13). By securing commitment, creating a common framework with a common set of rules and accounting measures, the ECF felt that reaching an international climate agreement was essential for ambitious national climate action. The international climate regime, they argued, generates “momentum and confidence,” contributes to “lowering financial and knowledge barriers” and enhances “transparency and accountability to domestic and international audiences” (ECF 2011d, 6). In other words, the success of domestic climate policies is contingent upon a favourable international environment (ECF 2011d, 3).

without progress, the international arena can exert strong negative influence on domestic action. Competitiveness and carbon leakage concerns continue to matter, as do arguments about the futility of individual countries’ efforts in the fact of others’ inaction. Meanwhile the high risk and capital requirements of low carbon solutions act as a critical global financial barrier. (ECF 2011d, 3)

As we will see, the ECF came to play a crucial “behind the scenes” role in the run-up to and during the Paris COP. Building upon its accumulated experience at the European and international levels, through its involvement in PC and other initiatives, ECF devised a new strategy aimed at revitalizing philanthropic involvement in the international climate process. According to ECF, PC’s—and through it ClimateWorks Foundation’s—failure to secure the anticipated results derives from an excessively narrow and elitist approach to policy change. While it acknowledged PC’s contribution to the climate debate (e.g. through the production of analytics), ECF identified two core strategic errors. First of all, PC failed to harness the complexity and subtleties of international climate diplomacy. In particular, some within ECF felt that PC was “too focused on big polluters” and that “smaller countries, vulnerable countries, ones that had a voice in Copenhagen, were not sufficiently included in the consultation process.” In other words, PC’s strategy was grounded on the misguided belief that an agreement between big polluters was sufficient to finalize a global deal. Additionally, PC drew on a very superficial and narrow assessment of countries’ respective priorities and interests. As one former ECF member of the PC team explains,

[PC] did not really understand the North-South politics as the mindset was too ‘pragmatic’, thinking in terms of a deal of mitigation against money. It could not see the moral dimension, it did not understand the relevance of symbolic politics (like the firewall [division between Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 countries]). It was ‘Northern at its core and therefore could not cross the North-South barrier which would have been essential for success in creating a shared understanding of the deal.9

Secondly, PC did not sufficiently account for the fact that “climate diplomacy has shifted from a relatively narrow focus on the UNFCCC process, to a more complex and wider discipline that now engages new constituencies and embraces broader geopolitical discussions” (Mabey et al. 2013, 6). As we have shown in the preceding chapter (and as evidenced by ClimateWorks Foundation’s grants portfolio), the bulk of PC’s efforts were targeted at a narrow group of “change makers.” By focusing almost exclusively on policy development and deployment,10 PC underestimated the impacts of broader political factors and the role of non-state actors. The initiative failed to recognize that change happens “in rather oblique and non-linear ways” and that there is a “need to pay more attention to politics and even to the polity” (Meier 2015). As Leslie Harroun explains, “the energy system is the basis for human development. Changing that system is much more complex and difficult than simply providing regulators with good information.” According to the ECF,

applying the lessons of the last three years, and indeed the previous decades, shows that our focus on the technicalities of good policy, the rational approach to problem solving, can lead us to underestimate the influence of politics, the ultimately human, and often irrational decisions made to address any given issue. (ECF 2011c, 4)

As they go on to explain,

It is therefore vital to take into account the fact that to undertake the radical policy change that will be required […], society as a whole, from the progressive to the conservative, right to left, engaged and disinterested, will be required to move to allow for the policy shift towards the goal of a sustainable future. (ECF 2011c, 4)

Subsequently, the ClimateWorks Foundation network must

move society as a whole along the political path to economic change across the world, acting to incentivize sustainable decisions and close-off the many diversions which will be both accidentally and consciously explored, slowing down progress and threatening our vitally important 2020 goals. (ECF 2011c, 5)

In effect, the ECF challenged the traditional liberal philanthropic idea that providing policy elites with impartial and scientifically backed evidence inexorably brought about transformative change. The ECF’s call for greater attention to politics does not involve—at least in appearance—taking sides but rather actively engaging in the political arena through the provision of “aspirational narratives” to “all strata of society.” It is grounded in the idea that “every effort to change public policy is political” (Teles and Schmitt 2011, 16). In many ways, the ECF replicates - albeit for diametrically opposite reasons - the methods and strategies adopted by neoconservative foundations and think tanks since the early 1980s (see Chap.  2) (Rich 2005). As with neoconservative groups, ECF sees transformative change as hinging on one’s ability to successfully wage a “war of ideas.” In other words, “driving the fact of universal self-interest in a sustainable future” requires “[influencing] elite opinion, [shaping] public consciousness, [recruiting] and [training] new leaders [and mobilizing] core constituencies” (Covington 2005, 89; ECF 2011, 5). Messaging and communication subsequently become core elements of any effort to influence the policy process. Advocacy work through lobbying, public relations, coalition-building and media activities is just as important as sound evidence and targeted advice in order to generate lasting change (Teles and Schmitt 2011, 2). Adequately communicating facts and ideas becomes just as important as producing them. As we will see, the ECF’s insistence on the need for “aspirational narratives” shares a lot in common with the GCCA’s communications-centred and capacity-building approach (see Chap.  4).

While still declaring itself as strategic, the ECF challenges certain tenets of the strategic or focused approach to philanthropy of Hal Harvey and Paul Brest (see Chap.  3)—approach that had hitherto informed much of the ClimateWorks Foundation’s activities (Meier 2015). Rather than focusing their grantmaking efforts on a carefully selected set of targets, the ECF’s suggested strategy involves a “spread betting” approach to grantmaking. This means having a long-term horizon and not caring about “the success or payoff of any one grant, but the aggregate payoff of their entire portfolio of investments, relative to their costs” (Teles and Schmitt 2011, 23). As Johannes Meier, CEO of the ECF since 2011, explains,

The frequency of unforeseen changes and the interdependency of subsystems makes the task a non-linear, non-deterministic, complex problem, as opposed to a simple or complicated problem. Tackling a complex problem requires one to pursue a multitude of paths and to embrace reflexivity. We have become more wary of ‘silver bullets’, or more generally of those who claim that they know ‘the one truth’. (Meier 2015)

According to Meier, this means adopting the same rigorous methods when selecting and evaluating projects while at the same time recognizing the complexity of the problem and the fact that various routes need to be taken to reach the objective. It also means coming to terms with the fact that success in the climate field requires foundations to simultaneously invest in a variety of strategies without guaranteed or measurable outcomes.

Reengaging in the International Climate Field (2011–2013)

Having succinctly presented ECF’s suggested approach to philanthropic engagement in the international climate field, we will now analyse its proposed plan of action for the 2011–2015 period. Firstly, it called for a series of targeted interventions in national and international arenas “that act as a powerful booster to strengthen domestic action.” Through these interventions, the general idea was “to create and enhance specific virtuous circles between the international and domestic arena, whereby the international environment strengthens domestic efforts, and ambitious domestic action enhances the willingness to enter more ambitious commitments into international agreements” (ECF 2011, 6). Targeted interventions include promoting the “green growth narrative” through the advancement of best practices, stakeholder dialogue, as well as outreach and communication to “business, economic and finance players in developed and emerging economies” (ECF 2011; Bowen and Fankhauser 2011). Referring to the Institute for New Economic Thinking and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE),11 they also suggest producing an authoritative international publication in 2014 synthesizing the state of knowledge on green growth (ECF 2011, 7). Other boosters include policy research to better highlight the potential of international financial instruments as enablers of ambitious climate action, and the creation of tools to track, assess and compare mitigation and finance actions and compare these to what would be required to keep the global temperature increase below the 2 °C threshold (ECF 2011, 8). The general idea was to generate momentum for change by making countries more accountable to each other and to the rest of the international community.

Rather than starting from scratch, ECF sought to extend and enhance the work that had been initiated in the run-up to COP15 and over the course of 2010. In February 2010, PC produced a briefing paper “Taking Stock—the emissions levels implied by the pledges to the Copenhagen Accord.”12 On the back of this work, ECF teamed up with the UNEP to produce the first in a series of Emissions Gap Reports. The report was officially launched at the COP16 in Cancun, Mexico (2010). It offered possible scenarios as well as suggestions for international and national policy mitigation actions. In the area of scenario building, ECF also drew on its Roadmap 2050 project and reports. Co-produced with input from think tanks and independent researchers, the Roadmap reports explored different pathways towards a low-carbon economy in Europe and made policy recommendations at both the EU and member state levels.13 By building credible scenarios, the idea was to assist decision-makers to identify the available options and to evaluate the political trade-offs associated with them. As we will see, ECF would contribute to the development of a powerful scenario-building community, largely organized around the Climate Action Tracker (Climate Analytics, Ecofys, Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung (PIK), NewClimate Institute).14

Secondly, ECF advocated orchestrating “a strengthening of pledges in 2015 by creating momentum for a ‘global moment’” coinciding with the COP21. While the aforementioned actions to strengthen national commitments are important, the ECF considered them insufficient. By generating momentum for a “global moment,” it hoped to get countries to simultaneously raise their levels of ambition and hopefully fill the gap between existing pledges and the required emissions reductions. Late 2015 was seen as the right time to orchestrate a “global moment” given the fact that the IPCC was planning to publish its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in 2014, that Obama would be reaching the end of his second term in office and that China would be preparing its 13th Five-Year-Plan (ECF 2011, 10).

To do so, ECF suggested arranging an effective communications strategy at both the international and national levels, and mobilizing a wide array of constituencies—from NGOs to businesses to the scientific community and the general public. The plan was to stress the urgency of the situation—by drawing on the climate science—while simultaneously fostering a renewed sense of optimism about the possibilities of reaching an ambitious global agreement and insisting on the economic benefits of a green growth pathway. There again, the idea was to build upon existing ECF efforts in the communications field. Created in the run-up to COP15, ECF’s Energy Strategy Center (ESC) was a unique effort within the ClimateWorks Foundation network at “[providing] direction and coherence in communication on climate and energy issues to shape a narrative that reframes the debate and facilitates action” and allows a “low-carbon prosperity narrative to take hold of the public debate” (ECF 2011b, 3). From a very early stage, ECF realized that success in the international climate debate did not only depend on the production of sound research and policy options but that it also, and perhaps critically, hinged upon one’s ability to coordinate messages and develop a unified vision for the climate and energy community. The ESC organized workshops and training sessions—media and spokesperson training, opinion piece writing, e-campaigns—for ECF programme staff and grantees so as “to get the entire climate community speaking with one voice” (ECF 2013, 39; 2011a, 3; 2011b, 6).

The core strategy of the ESC, as a support unit to the ECF and the wider climate community, is to ensure that across all sectors of the economy and public life, the advantages and benefits of policy to drive mitigation are not only understood but accepted and acted upon. At every stage, we seek to rebut misinformation, and reframe the debate in terms of the economic, social and political benefits of policies that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and seek to grasp the growth and innovation opportunities offered by the low-carbon revolution. (ECF 2011b)

Thirdly and finally, ECF suggested pushing for “a strong climate regime with binding elements in the second half of the decade, to ensure accelerated and coordinated action beyond 2020” (ECF 2011, 3). In terms of the structure and content of the future agreement, the ECF’s strategy, by “fostering bottom-up action and anchoring it in top-down elements,” builds upon a number of points previously laid out by PC in the run-up to Copenhagen (ECF 2011d, 3). Drawing the lessons from PC—and in particular its excessively Northern-focused approach—ECF suggested working with and supporting the work of progressive coalitions of countries in the international negotiations, and particularly the Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action. Originating in the Copenhagen context, the Cartagena Dialogue (CD) is an informal forum for exchange between developed and developing countries that share a common desire to bridge the North-South divide through dialogue and trust so as to find a common, negotiated solution to climate change.15 It acted as an informal discussion space for negotiators and experts representing between 30 and 40 “forward-looking” developed and developing countries that were “willing to work positively and proactively together, within and across regional groupings and traditional negotiating blocs in the UNFCCC,” in opposition to groupings like the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA) or the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), seen as too “principle-based” and as hurdles to greater USA–China cooperation (DECC 2014). The aim of the Dialogue was to enhance mutual understanding of countries’ respective interests and positions and to explore possible areas of convergence and joint action.16 It has been credited with having revived the UNFCCC process and paved the way for the Paris agreement (Vogler 2016, 84). As Lau Øfjord Blaxekjær and Tobias Dan Nielsen explain, the CD narrative “draws on the general green growth narrative of opportunities” (Blaxekjær and Nielsen 2014, 8). The ECF suggested assisting the CD through “a quiet and low key investment” via the ClimateWorks Foundation Latin American regional foundation to “think tanks and trusted experts, particularly in developing countries, that are close to this undertaking” (ECF 2011d, 11)

The International Policies and Politics Initiative

Having drummed up interest within and outside the ClimateWorks Foundation network over the course of 2011, members of ECF’s Global Climate Politics team—including Jörg Haas, Bert Metz and Delia Villagrasa who had previously been involved in PC as well as Katherine Silverstone—launched a consultation process in order to “[take] stock of how [they] might work more effectively to enhance international cooperation on climate policymaking” (ECF 2013, 34). The Durban COP’s encouraging outcome and the international community’s commitment to reach a global agreement in 2015 validated the strategy laid out by the ECF in its 2011 document. In close collaboration with E3G, the WRI, Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (IDDRI, Emmanuel Guerin), Simon Zadek (who had been involved in PC) and Carlo Jaeger (Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung), the team consulted with a variety of stakeholders, including negotiators, civil society representatives and members of the foundation community. According to one former contributor to the strategizing process, over 200 people were consulted.17 During the Rio+20 conference in mid-2012, for instance, a stakeholder meeting was organized to identify common areas of work.

In addition to getting as many actors involved as possible, the priority was to devise an appealing strategy to reengage funders in the international climate space. As we saw in the preceding chapter, the Copenhagen outcome deterred many foundations from international climate affairs. From the outset, the ECF, given its close ties to other prominent climate funders, strove to get as many on board as possible. The Oak Foundation, Mercator Foundation and ClimateWorks Foundation were early supporters of the ECF initiative. The Mercator Foundation contributed EUR 100,000 for the production of a feasibility study on the possibilities of getting foundations to reengage in the international climate policy arena (Stiftung Mercator 2013, 23). Other ECF funders such as CIFF soon joined in. Michael Jacobs, who had recently been appointed as ECF board member to represent CIFF, actively contributed to the strategy-building exercise.18 In November 2010, he had published an article entitled “Copenhagen was not a (complete) failure” in which he drew some lessons for future climate action. The document was annexed in the ECF’s 2011 strategy document (Jacobs 2010).

Given the importance of funding for the achievement of the aforementioned objectives, the priority became of providing funders with “a platform for philanthropic cooperation […] to catalyse greater ambition on climate change by working at the intersection of national and international decision-making” (ECF 2013, 26). The platform took the name of International Policies and Politics Initiative (IPPI). Launched in April 2013 with initial support from the ECF, the ClimateWorks Foundation, the Oak Foundation, CIFF and the Mercator Foundation (all ECF funders), IPPI’s stated purpose was to “highlight opportunities for philanthropic collaboration, joint strategy development, resource pooling, and grant-making alignments in the arena of international policies and politics of climate change” (ECF 2014, 26). IPPI was far more than just a platform for foundations to devise common strategies. It served as an instrument to catalyse/orientate funding—either through a pooled IPPI fund or by aligning foundations’ grantmaking with the IPPI approach—towards a pre-determined strategy—a strategy whose core principles were laid out in the ECF document of 2011.

That being said, it is difficult to precisely determine the level of foundation funding towards the IPPI strategy. According to one former foundation representative, “IPPI’s overall budget is in the single-digit millions.”19 In its 2013 and 2014 annual reports, ECF writes that it devoted EUR 2.6 million and EUR 1.2 million, respectively, to IPPI (ECF 2014, 42; 2015, 40). The ClimateWorks Foundation also channelled foundation funds towards IPPI-related projects and activities. While not explicitly earmarked as IPPI in its online database, over USD 5 million in grants went to international climate-related activities in 2015.20 To this can be added the grants made directly by aligned foundations to IPPI-related projects (including the Climate Briefing Service, Deep Decarbonization Pathways Projects and ACT2015, among others).

IPPI was initially intended as a “discrete ECF programme” whose role was to “work behind the scenes.”21 While the ECF had given rise to the original idea and while it housed its dedicated staff, IPPI was very much presented as an autonomous and “unbranded” initiative (“unbranded” as in not linked to any particular organization). Jennifer Morgan from the WRI was appointed as its coordinator. As we saw in Chap.  4, she played a central role in the launch of the GCCA. According to two former contributors to the IPPI project, the choice of Jennifer Morgan had to do with her long-standing experience in the international climate arena and her WRI affiliation. As one interviewee explains, “the WRI, given its director’s links with governments and international institutions like the World Bank, was seen as a legitimate partner in the eyes of the funders.”22 An IPPI steering committee was also set up. It brought together representatives from foundations, NGOs and think tanks.

As a multistakeholder platform, IPPI brought together representatives from a variety of different organizations involved in the international climate process. In mid-2013, a number of them met in a venue on the outskirts of Berlin to identify common strategic priorities and areas of collaboration. The initial “space” brought together a selection of non-state actors in the international climate arena representing a wide array of organizations—foundations, development NGOs (Oxfam), environmental NGOs (Greenpeace, WWF), campaign networks (CAN International,, GCCA, Avaaz), think tanks (E3G, WRI, UCS)—and areas of expertise—communication, analytics, mobilizing, lobbying.23 Many of them had a long track record of involvement in the international climate debate and strong ties with negotiators and the UNFCCC secretariat.

IPPI’s actions over the 2013–2015 period largely consisted in the enactment of the priorities set out in the ECF’s 2011 document (see above): strengthening domestic action, building momentum for a “global moment” in 2015 and crafting a strong international climate regime for the post-2020 period. In all three cases, IPPI’s role was to coordinate actions and get foundations—and other potential funders—to buy into the overall strategy and to fund all or part of the projects that derived from it. As one former IPPI associate explains, “every grant proposal has to fit into the overarching strategy and be approved by the core IPPI funders.”24 In order to broaden the funders base, IPPI, usually in collaboration with funder collaboratives—such as the CGBD’s CEFG, the European Foundation Centre’s European Environmental Funders Group (EEFG), the EGA or the COP21 Funders Initiative—organized a series of topical webinars in 2014 and 2015 for “funders active or interested in the international climate policy arena to learn about latest policy developments, share intelligence and identify opportunities for engagement.”25 Invited speakers included NGO representatives, researchers and representatives from the UNFCCC secretariat, among others.26

Strengthening Domestic Action and Pledges

IPPI pushed through and co-funded a variety of projects with the aim of strengthening domestic action and reduction pledges. It was particularly active from the moment that Parties to the UNFCCC decided to invite countries to prepare and communicate their intended nationally determined contributions (INDC) before the COP21. In a first instance, the IPPI team commissioned (in June 2013) a group of national experts to produce a series of national political economy surveys on a selection of key countries.27 The objective was to get a clearer sense of national political economies and their articulation with the international arena (seen in the broad sense as including international climate negotiations, bilaterals, cross-country initiatives and mobilization and strategic communications). Each of the authors was asked to analyse the domestic political agenda, the country’s role in the international climate arena, its domestic civil society, the media and communications. They were also asked to come up with a set of recommendations “to be used as a first input into the development of more detailed national strategies and how to best leverage the international arena in each country” (IPPI 2013, 1). Author recommendations included organizing workshops, branching out and engaging with national negotiators and key stakeholders as well as media outlets.

When it comes to tracking and assessing national mitigation and finance actions, and comparing these to what would be required to keep the global temperature increase below 2 °C, IPPI was directly or indirectly linked to a variety of modelling tools and initiatives. Their purpose was as much about evaluating current efforts and pledges as sustaining a sense of hope and momentum. It was about showing how, given the right measures, an ambitious long-term temperature target could still be achieved (even if this meant “moving the goal-posts” along the way through “negative emissions”). From 2013 onwards, it co-funded—with the ClimateWorks Foundation, the Oak Foundation and the Government of the Netherlands—the WRI-affiliated Open Climate Network (OCN). Launched in December 2010 at COP16 (Cancun), the OCN is a network of approximately 20 partner institutes specializing in climate policy that tracks and reports on their respective countries’ progress in the climate field.28 In addition to serving as a source of information on national GHG mitigation-related policies, OCN also seeks to catalyse national action “by drawing attention to the link between GHG mitigation and economic positioning” and “prepare key players, especially civil society groups, to participate actively and constructively in national debates around low-carbon growth and development.”29

In 2014, and with support from IPPI, the ClimateWorks Foundation and CIFF, the OCN (through WRI) teamed up with Climate Action Tracker (CAT; a joint project by Climate Analytics, Ecofys, PIK) to launch a joint initiative whose purpose was to encourage countries to adopt ambitious, transparent and verifiable emission reduction targets and plans of action that are in line with the 2 °C objective. Launched in 2009 with support from the ECF,30 CAT tracks countries’ emission-reduction efforts and commitments, assesses them (on the basis of an Effort Sharing assessment) and offers an overview of their combined effects. As part of the joint initiative, the OCN produced an assessment of the post-2020 GHG targets of eight top-emitting countries (Brazil, China, the EU, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and the USA) (Damassa et al. 2015). As previously highlighted, instruments like CAT were essential in order to sustain a sense of hope and trust within the international climate community. The choice of methodologies to evaluate countries’ mitigation efforts and to devise pathways that were compatible with the 2 °C target were decisive and gave rise to competing interpretations. In the context of the INDCs, for instance, there were differences when it came to appreciating the fairness of national mitigation pledges.31 For example, by offering a far more negative assessment of the USA’s mitigation efforts than CAT, the Fair Shares: A Civil Society Equity Review of INDCs report, launched in October 2015 by a group of NGOs, was very badly received by those involved in the IPPI strategy.32

Other IPPI-backed initiatives aimed at strengthening domestic action included the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP). Co-funded by IPPI, the Gross Family Foundation, CIFF, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and coordinated by IDDRI and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), DDPP was officially launched in October 2013. Bringing together energy specialists from a variety of countries, its ambition was to show how various countries could transform their national energy systems in a way that secures a transition to a low-carbon economy.33 The originality of DDPP lay in the fact that they adopted a backcasting approach, which consisted in starting with the 2 °C limit and working backwards to imagine the most suitable policies and technology solutions. In particular, they insist on the need for low-carbon technologies and policies that secure “directed technological change”—through coordinated efforts at the government, academic and business levels. In September 2014, the DDPP published its findings in the Pathways to deep decarbonization report (IDDRI and SDSN, 2014).

At around the same time as the DDPP report, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate (GCEC), chaired by Felipe Calderon (former president of Mexico) and co-chaired by Nicholas Stern, published Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report (GCEC 2014). Launched ahead of the UN-convened summit on global warming in New York, the report was intended as an authoritative international publication highlighting the economic benefits of emissions reductions—much in the same vein as the Stern review in 2006. Its recommendations clearly fall into the “green economy” discourse—carbon pricing, focus on climate-resilient technologies. While not funded by IPPI, the project team includes a number of familiar faces. The Global Programme Director of the New Climate Economy project is Jeremy Oppenheim from McKinsey and Company and previously involved in PC (see Chap.  4). Michael Jacobs, who as we saw was actively involved in the IPPI process, was a senior advisor to the project. And finally, Caio Koch-Weser, member of the Global Commission that oversees the initiative, is also chair of the supervisory board of the ECF.

Creating (Renewed) Momentum for a “Global Moment”

In an attempt to generate momentum and, in particular, to get countries to strengthen their pledges and raise their levels of ambition in the run-up to COP21, IPPI orchestrated a communications campaign aimed at creating the Paris “global moment.” Learning the lessons from Copenhagen where non-state actors and the media had played a central role in shaping public expectations and understandings, the IPPI approach involved a special focus on strategic communications. As Jennifer Morgan explains in an interview for The Carbon Brief,

I do worry that in order to explain things that the media will simplify things. And that I think is really dangerous. […] So I do see a risk—definitely—in an oversimplification and therefore a politicisation of things, and I really hope that journalists take the time to learn the issues and do responsible reporting on that. Because the world’s changed since Copenhagen, and I think it’s their duty to kind of report that. (Hickman 2015)

For Nick Mabey, Liz Gallagher and Camilla Born from E3G (who were actively involved in IPPI),

Effective diplomacy is not merely about government to government or ministry to ministry engagement, but also about deploying effective communications, public mobilisation and engaging the private sector. With fast growing low carbon markets, and rising climate impacts, the capacity and resources of non-governmental actors to shape climate politics domestically and international is likely to grow. The challenge for diplomacy is how to use this energy to strengthen ambition in the formal climate regime. (Mabey et al. 2013, 62)

From its inception in 2013 to the Paris COP in December 2015, the IPPI platform relentlessly publicized the positive economic and political signals and their role in building increasing political momentum towards Paris. This communications strategy builds upon earlier communications efforts by ECF and partner organizations, and mirrors a broader evolution of climate-related messaging in the post-COP15 context. It also fits into the “liberal environmentalist” discourse that views environmental protection and economic growth as mutually reinforcing. In his study of communication strategies and activities in the run-up to and during the 2010 COP in Cancun, Manuel Adolphsen shows how many of the large NGOs and NGO coalitions adopted a more pragmatic and “positive” approach. As he explains, GCCA, CAN International and large environmental NGOS like Greenpeace “went for optimistic, empowering frames” (Adolphsen 2014, 126).

Throughout 2013 and 2014, IPPI worked closely with the ECF’s strategic communications team—and in particular, the ESC. As was previously mentioned, the ESC’s role was to “shift the public narrative around the low-carbon transition from costs and barriers to challenges and opportunities” (ECF 2014). As part of the IPPI effort, ESC communications experts organized collective and personalized media training sessions to assist various stakeholders in their media-related activities. The ECF also set up a global communications network, the Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC), whose purpose is to plan and deliver strategic communications in the climate and energy fields at both the international and national levels. The network brings together communications specialists from around the world, each focusing on a particular country or region.34 They collaborate with and assist a wide range of actors: corporate, government, institutional, media, NGO, think tanks. Part of their work involves identifying high-potential campaigns and individuals, and helping them to plan their actions, target the right audiences and formulate their baseline messages, making sure along the way that each campaign bolsters an overarching narrative.

Over the course of 2013 and 2014, part of IPPI’s and the ESC’s work consisted in simultaneously generating a sense of hope by highlighting state and non-state efforts to ramp up ambition and urgency by communicating on the mounting scientific evidence surrounding climate change. During the COP19 in Warsaw (2013), for instance, IPPI orchestrated “a joint statement from 27 leading scientists arguing for no new unabated coal and hosted a press conference with the authors at the same time activists were protesting the International Coal and Climate Summit” (ECF 2014, 27). IPPI also supported Polish NGOs, media and public figures to raise awareness on the importance of climate change. Beyond COP19, IPPI also engaged a series of small-scale partnerships at the local level to mobilize public support for climate action. In 2013, for instance, it funded a conference on energy in Asia (organized by the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice) and the Fossil Free UK project. In September 2014, IPPI was also involved in the preparations for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit.

That same year, the ECF, in collaboration with other foundations, helped set up the London-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU)35—headed by former BBC Environment Correspondent Richard Black—and the Berlin-based Clean Energy Wire (CLEW)36 (co-funded with Mercator). The purpose of both organizations was to make informed contributions to debates on energy and climate change developments in the UK and Germany by supplying journalists and communicators with a regular stream of topical briefings. The ECF, and in particular the ESC, had a history of supporting communications services for journalists, communicators and the broader climate community. In 2011, it had launched The Carbon Brief website whose sole purpose was to provide briefings, analysis, press reviews, fact checks and science explainers in the areas of climate science, climate policy and energy policy.37 Through the combination of behind-the-scenes (GSCC) and public communications activities, the ESC sought to shape the public debate around climate change.

Mobilizing the Public

For IPPI, the purpose of popular mobilizations, whether outside or inside the negotiation hall, was to strengthen their overall strategy. While initially cautious about public mobilizations, the IPPI team soon realized that, if properly managed and oriented, they could act as a powerful “booster” in the run-up to Paris. On the margins of the official negotiation process, the resounding success of the People’s Climate March in New York City in September 2014 further encouraged IPPI to support popular mobilizations, especially during the Paris COP. Whereas, for the climate justice movement, the COP marked an opportunity to build up an autonomous global climate movement, irrespective of the climate negotiations, IPPI viewed popular mobilizations as a means of pressuring world leaders to act and seal the deal. In other words, popular mobilizations, and in particular their coverage by the media, were not detached from the climate negotiations and fell into IPPI’s wide-ranging approach to international climate diplomacy.

This explains why campaign groups like—whose campaign director Iain Keith was very active in IPPI—pushed for the organization of an international day of action at the start of the COP (on November 29) rather than at the end (December 12). Whereas members of the climate justice movement pushed for the December 12 so as to have the “last word,” wanted to mobilize the public in support of the negotiations taking place inside the Le Bourget conference centre. This logically meant mobilizing at the start of the COP. The November terrorist attacks had a major impact on the initial mobilization plans for Paris. and others were nevertheless able to stage an event in Paris on November 29 and to support a wide range of marches and public events across the globe. Its campaign focused on a combination of quite specific and fairly consensual demands such as “100 % clean energy by 2050” (targeting the fossil fuel industry) and very generic calls for leaders to “show ambition.” The latter took the form of a full-page advertisement in the International New York Times on December 11 where five heads of state—Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Dilma Rousseff, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping—were disguised as Star Wars characters under the title “Do. There is no try” and the slogan “Climate Deal: 100 % clean. Choose you must.” Mobilizations were to play a supportive role, not an empowering one. Unlike their climate justice counterparts, for groups like Avaaz that were associated with the IPPI strategy, mobilizations were intended to play a supportive role rather than an empowering one. It was less about “cultivating the grass-roots” than mobilizing the public in support of the ongoing negotiations (Hansen 2012).

As part of this strategy, IPPI and its associated funders made a series of grants to NGOs active inside and on the margins of the international climate negotiations space. It made grants to international networks—GCCA,, CAN International—and Southern or Southern-focused networks—Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement, ChristianAid, Oxfam America, Vasudha Foundation. Funded activities included media coverage support, organizing, NGO participation and coordination, outreach and education.

Mobilizing Science for an “Ambitious Agreement”

Translating scientific data into actionable information was a priority for those involved in IPPI. As Nick Mabey, Liz Gallagher and Camilla Born explain, “understanding the constraints from the scientific community and developing effective communications strategies which deploy a wide range of actors will be essential to demonstrate the material impacts of climate change upon everyday lives” (Mabey et al. 2013, 56). In 2014, with the publication of the IPCC’s AR5, the ESC produced “digestible summaries,” briefing notes and “rebuttal lines,” developed a communications strategy for the Working Group 1 report and coordinated press interviews following the official IPCC press conference in Stockholm. According to the ESC, “this work led to more than 12,400 stories worldwide in the first three days following the launch” (ECF 2014). The issue for the IPPI team was of making sure that the scientific community not only highlighted the dangers of unmitigated climate change but also did not undermine their efforts to promote an optimistic discourse on the feasibility of a 1.5 °C–2 °C target.

During the Paris COP and from the moment that scientists decided to talk to the media, communication experts associated with IPPI rapidly stepped in so as to make sure that they did not undermine the ongoing negotiations. On December 11, for instance, when members of the scientific community staged a press conference to express their views on the agreement and in particular the 1.5 °C long-term temperature goal, communications experts and members of the IPPI team overtly tried to prevent critical voices from speaking at the event. One of the rare climate scientists to openly voice his concerns about the agreement and feasibility of a 1.5 °C target (given the current level of commitments) was Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Worried by the potential impact of his press conference intervention, attempts were made to dissuade the organizers from allowing him to speak. Looking back at the Paris Conference, Kevin Anderson gives us a sense of this outside pressure on the scientific community when he writes that:

there was a real sense of unease among many scientists present. The almost euphoric atmosphere that accompanied the circulation of the various drafts could not be squared with their content. Desperate to maintain order, a club of senior figures and influential handlers briefed against those who dared to say so—just look at some of the Twitter discussions! (Anderson 2015a, 437)

This episode signals a growing subordination of climate science to climate politics—or, at least, a certain form and approach to climate politics. Whereas in the past, climate science—in particular through the IPCC—was expected to present the facts and expose the problem, it was now increasingly being pressured to abandon its ivory tower and contribute to securing a “positive outcome” in Paris, at the risk of downplaying certain “inconvenient truths.” Climate scientists, like NGOs and other sections of the climate community, were pressured to contribute to creating the “Paris moment” by “sending positive signals” even if this meant losing sight of the scientific evidence. Beyond the moral case for the promotion of a “positive outcome” lies a “fear of reprisals and reduced funding” (Anderson 2015b).

Climate Briefing Service

So as to more efficiently “shape the ‘realm of discourse’” and better coordinate the actions and messages of a wider range of climate actors, rather than just the ECF grantees, the IPPI team—in particular through the efforts of Jennifer Morgan and Liz Gallagher—launched the Climate Briefing Service (CBS) in late 2014 (Mabey 2014). With support from CIFF, ClimateWorks Foundation, the Villum Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Oak Foundation and Avaaz, CBS’s purpose was to both provide real-time and ready-to-use information to selected members of the climate community and “[coordinate] voices at national and international levels to help shape the national offers as they are being drafted and the thinking around the international agreement.”38 As we will see in the following paragraphs, it also acted as a global political and communications hub in support of the overall IPPI strategy.

CBS’s emphasis on information sharing and coordination between stakeholders mirrors the GCCA’s own capacity-building approach (see Chap.  4). The fact that Jennifer Morgan, who had played an instrumental role in launching the GCCA, was now in charge of IPPI and was actively involved in the CBS project supports this idea. A number of those who were active in CBS had also been involved in the GCCA. Like the GCCA’s nerve centre, the CBS’s “global team” brought together members of the international climate community representing a wide array of both insider and outsider organizations—environmental and development NGOs, climate networks, campaign groups, think tanks and research organizations, as well as foundations.39 While some NGOs were initially reluctant to join, arguing that there was a risk of overlap between their activities and those of CBS, the global team ultimately brought together representatives from the most prominent and active organizations in the international climate arena. As with the GCCA, among those who were not represented were groups associated with the climate justice movement. Members of the “global team” regularly took part in conference calls, strategy sessions, workshops and conferences to share views, information and intelligence on policy-related issues, and collectively establish strategic priorities. Government representatives and delegates attended some of the meetings. Representatives from the ECF’s Energy Strategy Center (ESC) and GSCC were also actively involved in CBS activities.

These elements of continuity notwithstanding, three important aspects distinguish CBS from GCCA. First of all, CBS’s underlying agenda and expectations for the COP21 are fundamentally different from those of GCCA in the run-up to Copenhagen. Whereas the GCCA called for a top-down, legally binding agreement, CBS, in stark contrast, supports a bottom-up approach involving voluntary, nationally determined mitigation commitments, an overarching long-term goal and framework to track progress. In this respect, and unsurprisingly given IPPI’s origins, CBS’s position is quite similar to that of PC in the run-up to Copenhagen. Secondly, whereas the GCCA pushed its partners to adopt, publicize and rally behind a common brand—TckTckTck—CBS and IPPI adopted a behind-the-scenes, unbranded approach, supplying partners with information and suggested key messaging but without ever appearing as the source of that information and messaging.40 CBS briefing recipients were systematically reminded that they were “confidential and not for public circulation.” Furthermore, there was no way for them to know exactly who else receives the briefings. According to one foundation representative, the adoption of this low-key approach responded to the GCCA’s failure in 2009 to take account of the fact that NGOs—especially the larger, more established ones like Greenpeace or WWF—were unwilling to abandon, even partially, their respective brand identities.41 In this sense, it was far more in line with the GSCC’s “behind-the-scenes” approach to strategic communications. Thirdly, and finally, unlike the GCCA’s open approach, CBS is an “invitation-only” platform where individuals were asked to join on the basis of their potential contribution to the overarching strategy.

Like IPPI, CBS did not have a legal status but acted as a loose platform. Its dedicated staff was based in the WRI’s Washington and E3G’s London offices.42 E3G housed a team of diplomatic writers whose function was to compile and synthesize climate-related intelligence and information and to draft “digestible” communications and briefing products for selected “CBS customers”—journalists, bloggers, representatives from NGOs, businesses, governments, intergovernmental organizations. In this respect, its activities were very similar to those of ECIU, albeit at a global level. Briefings were sent on a regular basis via email to “CBS customers.”43 These included campaigners, bloggers, journalists, climate policy and communications experts from NGOs, think tanks as well as national and international institutions. General briefings offered updates on the negotiation process, the progress on INDCs, information on past or upcoming multilateral or bilateral meetings, ‘stories of the week’ on public or private initiatives to ramp up ambition. They also included updates on the current status of key issues through a system of indicators and colour codes (incremental, dynamic, upwards), highlighting where further work was required, as well as links to reports and publications—usually by CBS global team members—and relevant news articles.44

More targeted, event-related or issue-specific briefings were also produced and circulated. Examples include a CBS briefing aimed at aligning “CBS partners’ strategic interventions around the operationalization of the long-term goal.” The briefing offered factual information on what is meant by a long-term goal, who supports it and who opposes it, and suggested core messages—and, on occasion, suggested tweets—for CBS partners to use (public interventions, meetings with ministers). During the Paris COP, CBS issued briefings on a twice-daily basis. The messages were tailored to targeted communities (corporate community, investor community, cities community, climate community, security/foreign affairs community). The underlying idea was to “nurture and engage influential constituencies (industry alliances, ambassadors, foreign affairs think tanks, mayors, states and regions, security officials, humanitarian organisations) with a view of aligning organisations around political interventions as agreed with the relevant national communications capacity of the region.”45 At the national and regional levels, this required identifying key narratives and spokespeople. To do this, CBS built up a team of country leads or “relationship managers.” There again, there was an overlap between CBS, the GSCC and other associated communications outfits (Climate Nexus, ECIU, etc.).

In order to ramp up ambition in the run-up to Paris, the CBS global team focused much of its efforts on key political moments, reaching out to and mobilizing stakeholders, and orchestrating a communications plan. Among the identified moments were the US–China bilateral meeting (September 2015), the G7 Elmau Summit (June 2015) and the US Secretary General’s informal lunch for leaders (September 2015). As CBS writes in one of its briefings, “all of these moments were prompted by COP21, thus demonstrating the value of a multilateral agreement that creates a global moment where countries stepping forward together, can provide each other with political cover domestically; increasing the probability of a more ambitious outcome than would otherwise happen unilaterally.”46

The UNFCCC Process

While effective communications and campaigning fit into IPPI’s holistic approach to climate diplomacy, IPPI was also actively involved in the formal UNFCCC process. As with its communications strategy, there were certain elements of continuity between IPPI and earlier initiatives in the run-up to COP15. In the negotiations field, the IPPI team drew on the lessons learnt from PC in order to secure a positive outcome in Paris. This implied developing a more accurate assessment of respective countries’ positions and interests in the UNFCCC space instead of simply focusing on the “finance for mitigation” approach. It also meant reaching out to and involving all parties rather than just the “big polluters.”

As with PC, IPPI benefited from close working relations with negotiators from key countries (especially since many of those involved or associated with IPPI had been active in 2009 and had contributed to PC’s work). In an attempt to address the “Northern bias” of 2009, IPPI sought to better account for Southern positions and involve representatives from the global South. As previously noted, in 2013, IPPI consulted with “Latin American think tanks, governments, civil society, and business to gather recommendations on what the philanthropic community could do to support a positive outcome” (ECF 2014). It funded and facilitated the launch of Southern-based think tanks, with the aim of mobilizing developing country actors and offering a “Southern perspective” on the climate question. In 2013, for instance, IPPI funded the creation of the Costa-Rica-based Nivela. Headed by Monica Araya, a former climate negotiator for Costa Rica (2010–2013) and senior associate at E3G (2009–2011), Nivela’s mission is to “challenge conventional wisdom on development using multidisciplinary analysis and reflections from the ground to spur changes in how environmental, climate and socio-economic goals are integrated in [developing countries’] pursuit of prosperity.”47 Other members of the Nivela strategy team include Ana Toni (ICS, Brazil) and Tony La Viña (Ateneo School of Government, Philippines), who were both involved in IPPI-related projects.

Within the IPPI network—and consequently the CBS global team—there were individuals with close working relations with Southern negotiators and governments. Bill Hare, former lead author for the IPCC and current CEO and founder of Climate Analytics, was in close contact with delegates from small island states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs). As director of the SURVIVE Project, in collaboration with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), he provided policy, scientific, analytical and strategic support, capacity building and advice for SIDS and LDC delegations in the run-up and during the Paris climate talks.48 Farhana Yamin, climate and development law and policy expert, former special advisor to Connie Hedegaard (European Commissioner for climate action) and former portfolio manager at the CIFF, actively contributed, in the post-COP15 context, to the development of progressive coalitions in international negotiations, and in particular the CD for Progressive Action. Representatives from the CD regularly interacted with the IPPI platform in order to coordinate activities and align positions.

Throughout 2015 and during the Paris Conference itself, IPPI made a series of grants to support the participation of developing countries’—Peru, South Africa, among others—and developing country groupings’—LDCs, Association of Latin America and the Caribbean—participation in the climate negotiations.49 Interestingly, ClimateWorks Foundation made a $175,000 grant to Independent Diplomat, a non-profit diplomatic advisory group, to assist the Republic of Marshall Islands in developing its strategy and communications in the negotiations.50 During the Paris Conference, the Marshall Islands spearheaded the “High Ambition Coalition,” a loose grouping of Northern and Southern countries that successfully pushed through the Paris agreement (Goodell 2016).

Far from holding a neutral stance towards the agreement, IPPI was actively involved in shaping the future international climate deal and related regime. Its desired outcome was reflected in the work of the Agreement on Climate Transformation 2015 (ACT2015) consortium.51 Launched in early 2014 and coordinated by the WRI, ACT2015 presents itself as “a consortium of the world’s top climate experts from developing and developed countries that has joined together to catalyse discussion and build momentum toward reaching a global climate agreement at the forthcoming UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit in December 2015.”52 ACT2015 partners include a number of organizations and individuals associated with the IPPI platform.53 Among them, Ecofys and the New Climate Institute are involved in the CAT, E3G is actively involved in the CBS, Energeia’s Jose Alberto Garibaldi was part of the early contributors to the IPPI platform in 2013 and Tony La Vina (Ateneo School of Government) was also involved in Nivela.

The ACT2015 consortium shares many similarities with PC (Chap.  4). Like PC, it convened a series of meetings and workshops with experts and negotiators to discuss the possible form and content of the 2015 Agreement. A total of 17 meetings were organized in Africa, Europe, North and South America and Asia.54 The Consortium also hosted side-events during COPs and Bonn negotiations. In October 2014, for instance, the Consortium presented a draft paper, “Elements and Ideas for the 2015 Paris Agreement” to governments and other stakeholder representatives at the UNFCCC intersessional meeting (Morgan et al. 2014). Drawing on the comments and responses to this first draft, the consortium would later go on to publish a final version of the document.

In terms of the suggested elements for a future agreement, ACT2015’s proposals fell in line with the overarching trend in international climate negotiations. The consortium produced a document detailing the “must-haves” of a future agreement in Paris (Morgan et al. 2014). It called for the inclusion of two long-term goals: one for mitigation and one for adaptation. Beyond committing countries, the long-term goal on mitigation “[sends] a clear signal to policy makers, businesses, investors, and the public that the low-carbon climate-resilient economy is inevitable” (Morgan et al. 2014, 2). In line with the “bottom-up” approach centred on national “commitments” rather than agreed international targets, the Consortium calls for the inclusion of a provision to regularly update commitments through five-year improvement cycles in three policy areas: mitigation, adaptation and support (capacity building, finance, technology transfer and cooperation). And finally, they call for a set of robust transparency and accountability provisions “so that governments, companies, and the public have a clear understanding of what countries are doing to shift their economies, build resilience, and, in the case of developed countries, provide support to poorer countries” (Morgan et al. 2014, 5). This proposal accounts for the USA’s position and those of large developing country emitters—in particular China—that wished to avoid being forced into inequitable legal obligations that could potentially jeopardize their economic development.


By focusing on the politics of climate change through its combined actions at various levels and in multiple geographies, the IPPI strategy and those associated with it can be credited with having contributed to the final Paris outcome. As was noted in the Introduction, on the evening of December 12, those who were involved in IPPI clearly felt that their efforts had paid off. By and large, the final agreement reflects many of the ideas suggested by IPPI: five-year cycles to ratchet up commitments, a long-term temperature goal, a framework for reporting, no binding emissions targets. This does not mean that IPPI should solely be credited with the Paris outcome but rather that through its highly sophisticated strategy and efforts—both within and outside the negotiation space—it contributed to make it happen. Interpretations of the agreement in the media were largely positive, there again mirroring IPPI’s efforts in the area of communications. The same can be said about the generally positive reactions from inside the climate community—experts, NGOs, business leaders. While these reactions were for the most part genuine, IPPI—in particular through CBS—still made sure that they were harmonized and properly articulated.

More generally, IPPI signals a major evolution of the liberal climate philanthropy field when compared to its early years in the late 1980s and early 1990s (see Chap.  2). It also demonstrates how foundations, far from limiting themselves to an auxiliary role, have become fully fledged stakeholders in the international climate regime. In other words, whether directly or through regranting organizations or initiatives, foundations have played a proactive role, using their assets and networks to shape and orientate the debate. Through their combination of grantmaking and advocacy activities, specialized entities such as the ECF and initiatives such as IPPI have tended to distort and belittle the actual levels of philanthropic involvement. This may partially explain why so few—if any?—academic studies analyse foundations’ role in the international climate debate. This lack of academic interest also applies to more “visible” groups or initiatives such as ClimateWorks Foundation, ECF, PC or IPPI.55


  1. 1.
  2. 2.

    Interview with author.

  3. 3.

    It helped launch the European Climate Foundation. 2011: $3,750,000 to ClimateWorks Foundation “to create a climate foundation in Latin America that funds policy and advocacy work for significant greenhouse gas reduction.” 2010: $2,000,000 to ClimateWorks Foundation “to fund the organisation’s partner in India, the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation.” 2009: $1,000,000 to ClimateWorks Foundation for the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation. 2008: $600,000 “to engage and support Indian civil institutions in promoting and implementing greener energy and transportation policies with a view to reducing India’s carbon emissions trajectory.”

  4. 4.

    Interview with author.

  5. 5.
  6. 6.

    Interview with author.

  7. 7.

    Interview with author.

  8. 8.

    Interview with author.

  9. 9.

    Email exchange with author.

  10. 10.

    By targeting the regulators and policy elites who are responsible for setting the rules for industry, transport, appliances, building and natural resource use.

  11. 11.

    Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, is chair of the LSE’s Grantham Institute.

  12. 12.

    PC followed it up with a second briefing paper on fast start finance to developing countries for adaptation and mitigation. In it, it evaluated the levels of pledges and compared them to the estimated needs, providing options on how to better use the funds along the way.

  13. 13.

    The analysis was produced by McKinsey & Company, KEMA, Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London, Oxford Economics and ECF. The policy recommendations were produced by E3G, Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), RAP and ECF.

  14. 14.

    In April 2010 a side-event and off-site meeting were organized in Bonn (during the UNFCCC negotiations) by ECF. UNEP, Climate Analytics, Ecofys, Potsdam/PIK, WRI, Climate Strategies, Climate Interactive, McKinsey to discuss the technicalities for measuring emissions reductions pledges (Jones 2010).

  15. 15.

    Launched in Cartagena, Colombia, in March 2010, the CD is generally recognized as having played a proactive and constructive role in the run-up to Cancun by rebuilding a sense of trust among parties.

  16. 16.

    Represented countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burundi, Chile, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, European Commission, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, México, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Rwanda, Samoa, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, the UK.

  17. 17.

    Phone interview with author.

  18. 18.

    From 2004 to 2010, he had been as Special Adviser to former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

  19. 19.

    Interview with author.

  20. 20.
  21. 21.

    Interview with author.

  22. 22.

    Interview with author.

  23. 23.

    People associated with this space include Tom Brookes (ECF), Ana Toni, Monica Araya (Nivela), Stephen Hale (Oxfam international), Kit Vaughan (CARE International), Jasper Inventor (Greenpeace), Athena Ronquillo-Ballesteros (WRI), May Boeve (, Alden Meyer (UCS), Kelly Rigg (GCCA), Farhana Yamin (Track0), Christoph Bals (Germanwatch), Thomas Spencer (IDDRI), Laurence Tubiana (IDDRI), Michael Jacobs (Grantham LSE), Karen Suassuna, Jose Garibaldi (ECF and then Carbon Tracker Initiative), Martin Kaiser (Greenpeace), Tasneem Essop (WWF), Nick Mabey (E3G), Liz Gallagher (E3G), Camilla Born (E3G), Srinivas Krishnaswamy (Vasudha Foundation), Lina Li (Ecofys and Adelphi), Ailun Yang (WRI), Wael Hmaidan (CAN International), Bill Ca, Mark Kenber (The Climate Group), Damian Ryan (The Climate Group), David Waskow (WRI), Iaian Keith (Avaaz), Hunter Cutting (Climate Nexus), Bert Metz (ECF), Joerg Haas (formerly ECF), Delia Villagrasa (formerly ECF).

  24. 24.

    Interview with author.

  25. 25.

    Interview with author.

  26. 26.

    Examples of webinars include: July 28, 2014, “Towards the 2015 Climate Agreement” (Speakers : Taryn Fransen, OCN; Michel Schaeffer, CAT; Emmanuel Guérin, IDDRI & UN SDSN); January 14, 2015, “After Lima and Before Paris: The architecture and landscape of climate finance” (Speakers: Athena Ronquillo-Ballesteros, WRI; Laetitia De Marez, Climate Analytics); February 13, 2015, “The role of China in the International Climate Talks” (Speakers: Ailun Yang, WRI; Li Shuo, Greenpeace China; Fuqiang Yang, NRDC China Program; Lynn Price, University of Wisconsin-Madison); July 1, 2015, “Divest: invest Philanthropy : a way towards ending fossil fuels?”

  27. 27.

    Brazil (Ana Toni), China (Ailun Wang), France (Euros/Agency), India (Seema Paul, ClimateWorks Foundation), Poland (Olgierd Annusewicz), the UK (E3G), and the USA (Katherine Silverstone).

  28. 28.

    Its partners and advisors include: The Climate Institute (Australia), Fundaçao Getulio Vargas (Brazil), Instituto Centro de Vida (Brazil), Pembina Institute (Canada), Renmin University of China (China), Tsinghua University (China), Concito (Denmark), IDDRI (France), Oeko Institute (Germany & EU), IFMR Centre for Development Finance (India), TERI (India), Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (Japan), CEMDA (Mexico), Zero Emission Resource Organisation (Norway), Committee on Climate Change (UK), Overseas Development Institute (UK), World Resources Institute (USA), Ecofys, Heinrich Boell Foundation, PIK (Potsdam).

  29. 29.
  30. 30.

    CAT is currently supported by the ClimateWorks Foundation and CIFF.

  31. 31.

    This was particularly evident in the case of the USA. While the IPPI-supported CAT offered a fairly encouraging evaluation of the USA’s efforts, groups associated with the Fair Shares: A Civil Society Equity Review of INDCs—drawing on analysis by the Climate Equity Reference Project (CERP)—offered a far less rosy picture.

  32. 32.

    The report was supported by ActionAid International, Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development, Climate Action Network South Asia, CARE International, Center for International Environmental Law, ChristianAid, CIDSE, Climate Action Network Latin America, EcoEquity, Friends of the Earth International, International Trade Union Confederation, LDC Watch International, Oxfam, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, SUSWATCH Latin America, Third World Network, What Next Forum, WWF International.

  33. 33.

    The selected case studies were: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, UK, USA.

  34. 34.

    Countries with GSCC-affiliated experts include the UK, Australia (where the GSCC global director is based), Poland, China, India, Brazil, France, Germany.

  35. 35.

    In its financial year 2014–15, ECIU received £210,000 from ECF, $200,000 from the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and £50,000 from the Tellus Mater Foundation.

  36. 36.

    CLEW received funding from the ECF and Mercator Foundation.

  37. 37.

    The ECF continues to be The Carbon Brief’s sole funder. For the financial year 2014/15, it received a £330,778 grant from ECF.

  38. 38.
  39. 39.

    CBS participants include among others Iain Keith (Avaaz), Jamie Henn (350), Camilla Born (E3G), Liz Gallagher (E3G), Mohamed Adow (ChristianAid), Monica Araya, Martin Kaiser (Greenpeace Germany), Farhana Yamin (TrackO), Wael Hmaidan (CAN International), Bill Hare (Climate Analytics), Pascal Canfin (WRI), Michael Jacobs (Grantham), Alden Meyer (UCS), Tim Nuthall (ECF), Alix Mazounie (RAC-France).

  40. 40.

    One only needs to go on the CBS website to get a sense of its unbranded communications approach.

  41. 41.

    Interview with author.

  42. 42.

    On E3G’s website, CBS is presented as “a joint E3G-WRI Platform providing political analysis and intelligence to a wide range of actors in the run up to the Paris 2015 climate change negotiations” (

  43. 43.

    Each email briefing began with the following words: “This briefing is confidential and not for public circulation. You have received it due to your relationships with CBS members and networks.”

  44. 44.

    Key issues included: “shifts in the national interest debate,” “the international context,” “progress in the real-economy” and “progress in the international climate regime.”

  45. 45.
  46. 46.

    CBS, 24 November 2015.

  47. 47.
  48. 48.
  49. 49.
  50. 50.
  51. 51.

    The consortium received an operational grant of EUR 1.5 million from the European Commission (DG for Development and Cooperation—EuropeAid) and further support from IPPI and the Prospect Hill foundation. ACT2015 published research on a series of agreement-related issues (legal architecture, improving transparency and accountability, options for adaptation and loss and damage, finance).

  52. 52.

    About ACT 2015.pdf.

  53. 53.

    ACT2015 partners: Ateneo School of Government (the Philippines), E3G (the Kingdom), Ecofys (Germany), Energeia, Institute for European Studies—Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), New Climate Institute, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (The Netherlands), Tsinghua University (China), Youba Sokona.

  54. 54.

    In May 2015, for instance, a workshop was organized in Beijing to discuss the 2015 agreement and its implications for China.

  55. 55.

    The only academic publication I found devoted to ECF was a very complacent paper by Thomas Scheuerle from the University of Heidelberg (Scheuerle 2015). The lack of academic interest may also have to do with the challenges associated with the study of philanthropic foundations. In my own research for this book, a number of foundation and NGO representatives either declined my requests for an interview or accepted on the condition that their names did not appear in the book.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edouard Morena
    • 1
  1. 1.ULIP and CNRS-LADYSSParisFrance

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