Philanthropy is failing to make a significant contribution
to combating climate change, finds a report published by
the Environmental Funders Network (EFN) today.
The UK’s largest trusts and foundations directed
less than 3% of their grants to the environment as a whole,
and less than 0.3% directly towards reducing carbon emissions,
the report finds.
Even philanthropists with existing environmental portfolios
awarded less than 10% of their grants to climate change
in 2005/6 and only 8% in 2006/7.
The report, Where The Green Grants Went 4 (WTGGW4),
focuses on 97 UK-based trusts that make environmental grants
of one kind or another.
Environmental issues remain a low priority for the great
majority of UK charitable trusts, despite evidence that
other grant-making programmes – on public health,
international development, human rights, migration, and
security – stand to be significantly impacted by climate
change and related environmental threats.
Key findings of the report:
· At most, environmental funders only directed 9.4%
to climate change mitigation in 2005/06 and 8.3% in 2006/07.
· The UK is lagging behind the United States - US
foundations give more than four times as much on a per capita
basis to environmental issues, and have increased their
funding on climate change work by 483% between 2004 and
· Nearly two-thirds of environmental grants went
towards food and agriculture, or conservation of landscapes
and biodiversity - all areas that will be significantly
impacted by rising carbon emissions.
Jon Cracknell, co-ordinator of the Environmental Funders
Network, said: “Giants of philanthropy like Andrew
Carnegie and Joseph Rowntree set their own agenda to respond
to the great issues of their time. Climate change is the
great issue of our time - an enormous threat to wildlife,
landscapes and humanity.
"They showed how philanthropy can support innovation
and catalyse change. It is this heroic spirit that is urgently
needed given the scale and immediacy of the challenge we
The report suggests reasons why trusts don’t engage
more with climate change, including the fear that such work
is too politicised, and the sense that systemic environmental
problems are ‘too hard’ to tackle.
It gives examples of successful philanthropic interventions,
including The Big Ask campaign masterminded by Friends of
the Earth, and the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy
The report shows that funders did increase their total
environmental giving by 68% from 2004/5 to 2006/7, however
environmental funding still only represents 3% of all UK