On Earth Day, Open Society Foundations Announce Climate and COVID-19 Fund

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

On Earth Day, Open Society Foundations Announce Climate and COVID-19 Fund

Scientists have long warned that the climate crisis is a “threat multiplier,” meaning it will unleash and exacerbate existing social inequalities and injustices. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the climate threat even worse, and revealed that urgent, science-based action on both issues is necessary to prevent catastrophic impacts on human health, the environment, and the global economy. 

“From the beginning, the Foundations have grappled with the greatest threats to open society,” said Alexander Soros, deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations. “The climate crisis poses an existential risk to all the communities and causes we support. This funding is part of our ongoing commitment of standing up for human rights, social justice, and equality.”  

The funding recognizes that in this moment of emerging COVID-19 stimulus packages, bailout plans, and worker programs, fundamental decisions are at stake that will either drive progress towards an inclusive, green, and just future—or support the destructive, business-as-usual practices that threaten us all. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made all too real the dangers of ignoring science. Our world is facing two emergencies at once—both the climate crisis and a global pandemic—and it is deepening racial, gender, and economic injustices,” said Patrick Gaspard, president of Open Society Foundations.

“We all have significant choices ahead of us on how to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic on better, more resilient footing,” Gaspard continued. “Open Society is responding both by supporting the needs of low-wage workers and frontline communities, and by backing those taking bold steps towards a just and sustainable future.” 

Specific elements of the funding package include: 

  • A pledge of $8.95 million to advance green economic stimulus plans in the United States and Europe, by countering disinformation efforts and supporting reforms that focus on low-wage workers, frontline communities, and democracy
  • A pledge of $3 million to nonpartisan public mobilization and advocacy efforts worldwide that are working to decrease fossil fuels, address air quality, and accelerate a just and effective energy transition toward resilient, sustainable, and open societies
  • A pledge of $2 million to support the ongoing action to prevent a surge in deforestation in Latin America, which is particularly urgent given rollbacks in environmental enforcement measures during the COVID-19 pandemic
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