A new report released by the Foundation Center, which supports philanthropic interests, points to a tripling of charitable donations to climate-related issues in 2008, an increase to roughly $897 million compared with the total of $240 million reported for 2007.

Coming prior to most of the onset of the global economic recession and what some fear amounts to “climate fatigue” on the part of the public in the wake of a disappointing December 2009 Copenhagen conference and controversies of the past six months, much of the funding went to academic research scientists and various other efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating higher sea levels and other impacts.

Reporting on the Foundation Center analysis online April 6, Nature magazine said that the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, in Menlo Park, Ca. gave a total of $549 million, including a one-time $500 million grant to help countries limit CO2 emissions. Combined, 268 foundations distributed 1,578 grants on climate change issues, a 45 percent increase from the previous year, according to the report, “Climate Change: The U.S. Foundation Response.” Three charts available in the document:

The Nature article indicated that a younger generation of foundation leaders “are now starting to set up their own foundations with a strong emphasis on climate change.”