Dozens of major funders have signed climate pledge, umbrella body reveals

Dozens of foundations that control hundreds of million of pounds in funding have signed a commitment to do more to tackle the cause and impacts of climate change.

The Funder Commitment on Climate Change was launched in November 2019 and has been overseen by the Association of Charitable Foundations since June last year. 

The latest signatory is ICAEW Foundation, which brings the total number of organisations that have backed it to 60. 

At the end of last year, the then-50 signatories had an estimated total annual giving of £351m and total assets of £4.7bn.

The ACF has published its first progress report from signatories to the pledge, which involved feedback from 44 organisations and highlights five key areas: educating and learning about climate change impacts and solutions; committing resources to tackling and adapting to its impact; integrating climate considerations within existing programmes; stewarding investments for a post-carbon future; and decarbonising their own operations.

The ACF said the most progress had been made to committing resources to the issue, with 11 funders at an advanced stage and 22 making some progress. 

Integrating climate into other work and decarbonising operations showed the least progress of the five commitments.

The report notes that funders’ ability to commit funds to tackling climate change had been hampered by the pandemic’s financial impact on their own organisation and resources.

Joanna Pienkowska, ACF lead on the funder commitment and co-author of the report, said: “The case studies in this report demonstrate that all foundations – whatever their charitable mission – can play a part in responding to the climate threat by acting in their space.

"We hope this resource will inspire other foundations to join this collective climate work and sign on to the commitment.”

The ACF said it was important to note that the public commitment by signatories is to report annually on progress, and that only about 30 signatories had been signed up for more than one year. 

The charity leaders body Acevo also released a statement this week that said the pandemic offered an opportunity to shift the dial toward climate change and give the issue the attention it deserves. 

It is calling for individuals to sign up to leadership principles it describes as “the three As”, which were devised by Acevo’s climate crisis member working group. 

They include a commitment to net-zero emissions and using communication platforms to support campaigns that ask policymakers for change. 

Acevo said in a statement: “The principles provide a shared commitment for us to acknowledge the scale of the crisis; to be ambitious in our pursuit of climate justice, both as leaders of individual organisations and as a collective voice for civil society; and to act wherever we can to create progress.”

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