What can philanthropy do for the climate?



Speech by Augusto Soto at the Second Dialogue of the China-Europe-America Net-Zero Transition Platform

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About the Speaker

Augusto Soto is Director of Dialogue with China Project and President of The China-Europe Association for the Promotion of Mutual and Sustainable Trust. Dialogue with China is an independent electronic platform with intercontinental reach aimed at discussing current events, intercultural and international issues as well as promoting projects for a better understanding and interaction with China in the real world. He is Adjunct Professor at ESADE Business School. He has also been lecturing for several years at the Open University of Catalunya, Autonomous University of Barcelona and CIDOB. Augusto Soto studied Chinese at the Beijing Language Institute and Chinese Contemporary History at Beijing University during the latter half of the 1980s.


Full Text

Dear authorities and dear friends:

Thank you very much for this invitation.

Pandemics and wars belong to the cycles of history, as we know. Now we have reached a critical threshold with the backdrop of the current climate change emergency. It matters to make this remark these days, as we hear speeches and read analyses on the theoretical and practical use of nuclear weapons in Europe. Needless to add that climate is endangered.

Various tools and financing mechanisms have already been set up to improve countries’ access to climate finance and catalyse investments into climate action. The COP 27 Climate Implementation Summit Innovative Finance for Climate and Development Round Table highlights private philanthropy last, preceded by green bonds, environmental impact bonds (EIBs), debt-for-climate swaps, blended finance, the IMF’s role, and voluntary carbon markets.

Now, extremely interesting is that according to the updated COP 27 document discussed right now in Egypt, philanthropic giving represents a potential source of financing for climate positive projects, but its use remains insufficient, as granting for climate change mitigation globally reached $6-10bn in 2020, corresponding to less than 2% of total global philanthropic giving. The potential to reverse this figure is huge.

It is self-evident that philanthropy needs stronger focusing on climate change mitigation.

In modern times the US reinvigorated the concept of philanthropy by giving birth to world recognized personalities with impact. Decades after World War II, Europe reemerged with philanthropists of its own in several fields.

China is experienced with the concept of philanthropy since at least 1500 years, as member of the Board of Trustees of the China-Europe-America Global Initiative, Madame Vivian Jia reminded us in her last year’s lecture in this very Net-Zero Platform. Currently China’s common prosperity concept and the third distribution as schemes seem to herald new horizons, with potential to generate opportunities for climate change philanthropy, and eventually, international inspiration in this field.

Certainly, Europe, China and the US acting together in this field is an ideal, a lofty ideal and goal. That is the question.

Concerned parties could set up specialized teams to coordinate, including decision-making process on where and how to allocate resources and various initiatives based on national and global circumstances. Acting in this way saves time. Of course, working-styles or working traditions should be considered as well.

Also, it seems reasonable to assume that the parties concerned should contribute to further widening global awareness. If we talk about Net-Zero Transition Platform, Internet search engines, such as Baidu, Google could jointly strengthen cooperation in this field. But equally important, such a permanent Trialogue, including China, Europe and United States, could have multiplying effects by sending innovative messages to reach out to global audiences encouraging people who never considered climate change to cooperate. We could vindicate the ist suffix of the word philanthropist (philanthropy, philanthropist), describing a person who does a particular action. It could be by giving money or dedicate time, some time.

In the context of this Net-Zero Transition Platform, Mr. David Gosset has reminded us that “Philanthropy is fraternity in action”. One hundred years ago, world famous Spanish philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset, in his Meditations on Quixote, defined life with the following sentence: “I am I and my circumstance; and, if I do not save it, I do not save myself.” It seems the right inspiration for each of us, inhabitants of our endangered planet.

Thank you! 谢谢大家!


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