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Launching Research: Bay Area Climate Change 2013

July 10th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

Average global temperatures have increased by about 1 degree Celsius over the 20th century (The Nature Conservancy)

Scientists have already begun to observe the variety of impacts that climate change can have on people, plants, and animals (EPA). The issue of climate change has obvious global implications and is being worked on at every level from local and state to national and international. Our research recently explored the work that nonprofits are doing at the national level to address climate change. To explore the cause from the local perspective, we turn our focus to the San Francisco Bay Area.

In many ways, the Bay Area is a model for local and national climate change work throughout the country. The Bay Area has a long history of involvement in the environment, especially around topics such as land conservation and open-space protection. And Silicon Valley specifically, home to many tech start-ups, has a history of innovation around green tech, renewable energy, and sustainability. At the state level, California’s 2006 legislation AB32–the Global Warming Solutions Act–mandates that by 2020 California reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. Many of the major initiatives for reducing climate change or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are implemented at the local level.  The Bay Area is uniquely situated to showcase many climate change interventions that range from individual action to business practices to government intervention.

Revisiting this Research

In 2010, when we last explored this topic, 97 experts identified 15 exemplary nonprofits in the sector. We refresh our research every three years to keep results relevant. One major regional and national event was the 2011 bankruptcy of Solyndra, a Bay Area alternative energy start-up with a Federal investment. While the events surrounding the close of Solyndra are part of a much lengthier conversation, it is safe to say that the event strained perceptions and operations around alternative energy production (and subsidies). A more positive change in the sector is recent economic growth. In 2010, the US was in the midst of an economic downturn causing a concern that increased emission standards could cripple industry. Today, the economy has not fully recovered, but is in much better shape.

Research Scope

We are asking experts to recommend up to four nonprofit organizations based in the San Francisco Bay Area they feel are having the most impact in the field of climate change. They will also be asked to recommend up to two promising start-ups.

Nonprofits tackle the complex issue of climate change from a variety of prevention and mitigation perspectives including:

  • Alternative energy
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Environmental justice
  • Green jobs
  • Pollution
  • Sustainability
  • Transportation

We’d like to encourage experts to consider a diverse array of organizations. Types of organizations addressing climate change could include:

  • Community-based organizations
  • Conservation groups
  • Policy and advocacy organizations
  • Public outreach/education organizations
  • Research organizations
  • Trade associations

Specifically excluded from consideration will be for-profit organizations such as solar or green tech companies, green architects, or climate/energy consultants.

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in climate change in the San Francisco Bay Area and have insight on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until late August 2013. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.

Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!



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