Barr Foundation Expands Climate Program · Barr Foundation

Barr Foundation: Climate Program

Climate change is real. It is happening. It is accelerating. All over the world, people are experiencing its effects. And these are becoming more devastating every year—a trend that can be checked only through dramatic, global effort.

While climate change is a global challenge, cities, states, and regions have become vital agents of leadership. We believe breakthroughs and progress will continue coming from the ground up and that Barr can help catalyze and advance solutions and leadership across our region in ways that also spur broader action. On occasion, we engage in targeted national or global efforts with significant opportunities to contribute to impact. Yet our principal geographic focus is the U.S. Northeast.

We focus on the two areas that produce the most greenhouse gas emissions: 1) how we generate and use energy; and 2) how we move around. To learn more about our strategies and grantmaking priorities in each of these areas, explore our Clean Energy and Mobility focus areas below.

In addition, we recognize that Greater Boston is especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of a changing climate—particularly rising sea levels. With many city and state agencies already taking action, Barr launched a two-year exploratory initiative in 2016 to ensure Boston is adequately prepared for climate change, while also positioning our region among global leaders in kindred efforts.

With an initial $5 million commitment for 2018, Barr Foundation adds climate resilience as a third priority of its Climate program.


“Every day, little by little, the water is rising, washing away beaches, eroding coastlines, pushing into homes and shops and places of worship. As our world floods, it is likely to cause immense suffering and devastation. It is also likely to bring people together and inspire creativity and camaraderie in ways that no one can foresee. Either way, the water is coming.”

-Jeff Goodell, The Water Will Come

With an initial $5 million commitment for 2018, Barr Foundation adds climate resilience as a third priority of its Climate program.

Each year, Boston becomes more vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate. We know this from the Climate Ready Boston research commissioned by the City of Boston. Moreover, the extreme weather events of 2017 in California, Florida, Texas, and the Caribbean only underscore the scale of the challenges before us, the urgency for action, and the many opportunities Greater Boston has to prepare for rising seas and other climate impacts.

As Jeff Goodell argues in his highly acclaimed new book, The Water Will Come, this moment calls for us to embrace creativity, to invest in smart and sustainable solutions and, most importantly, to come together to address the challenge of a changing climate.

Since the Barr Foundation’s inception, one of our key priorities has been the environment. In 2010, we sharpened this work with a focus on climate change. Initially making a five-year, $50 million commitment, as we close 2017, Barr has awarded over $120 million in support of this vital work.

Through these years, Barr’s principal attention has been on reducing emissions from their two largest sources: transportation and energy. Yet, even as we have sought to mitigate the most harmful impacts of climate change, we have also recognized that many of those impacts are inevitable. As a result, over the last two years, we supported an exploratory pilot in climate preparedness.

Based on what we have learned from that effort, the Barr Foundation trustees recently authorized an expansion and deepening of this work. Beginning with an initial investment of $5 million in 2018, climate resilience will join clean energy and mobility as a third priority for Barr’s climate program. We intend for this to remain a key focus area for years to come, with the goal of integrating our efforts across clean energy, mobility, and resilience as mitigation strategies often result in greater resiliency as well.

…(read more).

Boston residents are already affected by extreme heat, rain, snow and flooding. These trends will likely continue. The City launched Climate Ready Boston to help Boston plan for the future impacts of climate change.

Climate Ready Boston is an ongoing initiative. We released a comprehensive study report in December 2016 that you can read below. We are now working with the community and other partners to advance our vision for a Climate Ready Boston.

Climate Ready Boston is a partnership with the Green Ribbon Commission with support from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.

New Report

Read the October 2017 report, “Coastal Resilience Solutions for East Boston and Charlestown.”

Full Report

executive Summary

Download the printer-friendly versions: Full Report, Executive Summary.

Contact Us

Email greenovate or sign up for our email list.

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Projects Across the City

Climate Ready East Boston
Our first neighorhood coastal resilience plan. Read the report here.

Climate Ready Charlestown
We are finding ways to reduce flood risk while improving the community. Read our newest report for Charlestown here.

Climate Ready South Boston
We are kicking off this neighborhood project in Fall 2017.


Read the Citywide Report

Executive Summary Climate Projections Vulnerability Assessment esilience Initiatives

Explore the Maps

Better understand the flooding, heat, and social vulnerability data used in Climate Ready Boston



Track our progress in implementing the citywide report recommendations

Climate Ready Boston Progress Tool


Across the City, we recognize the importance of tracking our progress and being transparent. This tool is our pilot to improve those efforts in climate resiliency. We want to how the progress we’re making on the initiatives recommended in the Climate Ready Boston Outline of Actions.

Action Help raise awareness in your community of Boston’s climate impacts and what we can do to prepare.
Learn More

Library of resources

Resources Contact: Environment

Below are resources related to climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation planning in Boston and the greater metro area.

Who’s Involved:


Emergency Management

Resilience and Racial Equity


Public Health Commission

Planning & Development Agency


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