Alliance’s June 2016 issue highlighted the tiny amount of philanthropic funding directed towards climate change: just 2 per cent of total US and UK foundation spending. Yet it’s hard to imagine another philanthropic cause that isn’t made more complicated or intense by the changing climate. Whether your foundation’s mission is focused on international development, health, human rights, social justice or refugees, climate change is probably making your job harder.
‘Whether your foundation’s mission is focused on international development, health, human rights, social justice or refugees, climate change is probably making your job harder.’
That’s because climate is very much a human issue: one caused by us but also, as several contributors describe, one that affects us in disproportionate ways, typically following the fault lines that already divide our society.
Climate justice may not dominate the climate philanthropy conversation but existing climate funders do seem to be concerned with it. Our analysis of grants data from the 30 biggest UK environmental grantmakers reveals that 40 per cent of grants made in 2014 were focused on some aspect of climate justice. They supported indigenous communities defending their lands against fossil fuel extraction, solar lighting for communities without access to the grid, advocacy at the intersection of fuel poverty and climate change, and much more.
This is all climate philanthropy. It is also philanthropy focused on human rights, international development, health and justice. Perhaps, seen through this human lens, more funders can begin to understand the ways in which their grants and investments might better address both climate change and their particular mission. We hope they do, and that they do so quickly. We have just eight years to stop emitting greenhouse gases if we want a 50 per cent chance of keeping global climate change within 1.5˚C. We have to act fast, and the transition must be just.
Director, Environmental Funders Network
On the same topic: ‘Climate change should be central to all philanthropy’ by Catherine Brown and ‘Engagement needs more time to prove itself’ by Julian Poulter.