Philanthropy’s Critical Nuclear Moment

Philanthropy’s potential role in the science and development of nuclear power is significantly constrained, both by the overlap with impact investors and the traditionally dominant role played by government, especially abroad. Yet, the urgency of the need to address climate with technical solutions demands more of those with the ability to donate.  So, it may not surprise many, that there are now dozens of funders, grantees and other nonprofit organizations working in the pro-nculear space, who are committed to the mission of ensuring that nuclear thrives and succeeds in helping to decarbonize the planet.

Inside Philanthropy reporters interviewed more than a dozen of these individuals who share the belief that the fate of the Earth is dependent upon mankind’s ability to support the continued deployment of safe and abundant nuclear, since, according to the IPCC and numerous key scientists, like James Hansen, it will be impossible to decarbonize the entire global economy with it within the appropriate time frame.

Among those interviewed included Armond Cohen, executive director and co-found of the non-profit Clean Air Task Force and Rachel Pritzker, president and founder of the Pritzker Innovation Fund, one of the earliest and best-known funders in the space, who sees nuclear a piece of a larger puzzle.  

Sam Mar, VP at Arnold Ventures, noted that most philanthropic funding has gone to organizations supporting other types of zero-emission energy and that nuclear groups are significantly underfunded as a technology and industry group.  This view was confirmed by Matthew Nisbet, who published a research paper analyzing climate funding and who found that no grants at all were focused on promoting nuclear energy but rather, if there were grants, they were used for opposing nuclear energy.

So the question is, if philanthropists do want to support nuclear power, how can they do it?  According to Larry Kramer, president of the Hewlett Foundation, funders should be “helping to finish off the research and development on fourth-generation reactors, then helping develop poicies to implement and figure out where there is the support for siting new designs. 

See Inside Philanthropy: Philanthropy’s Critical Nuclear Moment or, if you don’t have a subscription, see the reprint of the IP piece at Klean Industries.