Comic Relief, Children's Investment Fund Foundation, European Climate Foundation

Climate change is moving higher up the news agenda, but how is the climate for funding environmental projects looking?

Iceberg
Iceberg

"The total amount of money from grants and foundations has increased quite substantially, albeit from a very low base," says Jon Cracknell, who co-wrote the fourth edition of Where the Green Grants Went, an annual analysis of funding for environmental and conservation work.

This is partly because major funders such as Comic Relief are moving into this area, and partly because of new earmarked funding.

The latter is coming from funders such as the Children's Investment Fund Foundation, which recently launched a special initiative on reducing carbon emissions. The CIFF is also one of the seven partners in the European Climate Foundation, which gives grants to campaigning organisations.

"I'd say it's an issue with which some of the cutting-edge philanthropy trusts in the UK are realising they need to engage," says Cracknell.

Coutts & Co, for example, is halfway through a pilot project with individual philanthropists who are interested in environmental issues. And the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust is taking a different tack: it's not running a specific programme, but putting an emphasis on climate change in all its programmes.

"We aren't an environmental trust," says Stephen Pittam, secretary of the trust. "But climate change is not just an environmental issue - it's one that will affect every aspect of our lives."

But the issue of climate change does not seem to be filtering through the sector as a whole, according to Cracknell.

"Climate change still gets only a tiny proportion of available funding," he says. "We've got less than 100 months to do something really meaningful about curbing emissions trajectories, and the money just isn't there."

CASE STUDY - PIRC

The Public Interest Research Centre, based in Machynlleth, mid-Wales, researches the links between climate change, energy and global economics.

It received a grant of £64,000 last April from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. This covered core funding - the salaries of one full-time and two part-time posts - for a year, and made it possible for the PIRC to produce the report Climate Safety.

"We were very impressed with the Climate Code Red report produced by Australian groups in 2007," says Tim Helweg-Larsen, the centre's director.

"It communicated the latest climate science clearly and in a way that both campaigning groups and policymakers could pick up on.

"We planned to repackage it at first, but eventually we reworked it completely. It wasn't the only thing we did that year, but it was definitely the main thing.

"It started with a late-night phone call to Australia and ended up as six months of research work - and it's had considerable impact."

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