Aid Groups Push for Clean Energy

BARCELONA—When Samantha Smith started working for the World Wildlife Fund more than a decade ago, she was stationed in the Arctic, where her work focused on the species she was trying to protect in that habitat.

‘‘I had my encounters with polar bears,’’ she said.

Now, she is working on a much broader set of problems. ‘‘We started out looking at animals, species and the places where they lived, but we are finding that a lot of this is about natural resources,’’ she said.

WWF, the venerable conservation organization, is increasingly putting resources into research and advocacy in an effort to change public policy on climate change and clean energy. It is not alone among nonprofit groups. A variety of organizations — from those that bring development aid to those that focus on animal protection — have taken up the cause of global climate change. Often through broad coalitions likr the Climate Action Network they lobby governments, pushing for policy changes that would favor clean energy.

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While most of the people at the WWF still work on protecting animals and their habitats—from polar bears to river dolphins in the Mekong Delta to elephants in Cameroon — advocates like Ms. Smith and her team try to persuade policy makers and corporations that sustainable energy should be pursued.

‘‘We are still out in the field with our boots on, but also at places like this and the World Economic Forum,’’ she said last week at the Global Clean Energy forum in Barcelona, where she faced Charles Soothill of the energy giant Alstom in a debate about European emissions and renewable energy goals.

‘‘They can see here that NGOs are ready to take them on on their terms,’’ she said.

Oxfam, the charity that fights poverty in the developing world, is also working to put climate-change issues before policy makers.

 

 

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