Addressing climate change is one of the world’s greatest challenges. And, though humanity has made widespread progress in this area, we are still unlikely to hit the 1.5ºC target specified by the Paris Agreement. The most likely amount of warming we will face is 2.7ºC, according to recent data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a thorough research synthesis from Forethought Foundation Researcher Dr John Halstead. This is enough to disrupt the environment significantly, disproportionately affecting the world’s worst-off countries in numerous ways — natural disasters, agricultural failures, and heat-related excess mortality.
And it could get worse. There’s no guarantee that warming will stick to 2.7ºC or lower — this is a forecast based on current trends. If those trends worsen, there’s a small possibility that humanity could hit a climatological tipping point, leading to more extreme warming from physical feedback loops. Even at 2.7ºC warming, conflict will likely increase, leading to a heightened risk of biological or nuclear war.
One of Longview’s heuristics for identifying effective giving opportunities is “neglectedness.” We look to fund projects that are not yet receiving enough resources, given the greater number of extraordinary opportunities that will have been overlooked. While climate change as a whole is not neglected relative to our other focus areas, it seems likely that some sub-fields of climate policy deserve more attention than they currently receive, and are thus good candidates for strategic philanthropy. These sub-fields include nuclear energy and carbon capture, potentially vital technologies for mitigating climate change long into the future.