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New climate pledge for individual philanthropists launched as COP26 focuses on finance

The Individual Philanthropy Commitment on Climate Change is the world’s first pledge supporting private donors to commit resources and other actions to combat climate change.


A new pledge to help individual philanthropists to focus on climate change has been launched during the COP26 UN climate conference. It comes on the day that COP26 is focusing on mobilising public and private finance flows at scale for mitigation and adaptation.

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change has said that 1% of GDP needs to be spent to meet climate targets and that low carbon investment must scale up to £50 billion each year to deliver Net Zero. This requires mobilising public, private and philanthropic funding. 

Read the Commitment in full

The UK and devolved governments are committed to net zero targets and three quarters of councils have declared a climate emergency with their own targets. And seven out of ten businesses have made, or are considering, a commitment to net zero. The role of philanthropy risks being left behind, so today’s announcement of the UK’s Individual Philanthropy Commitment on Climate Change marks a significant moment for philanthropy stepping up to the challenge.

Institutional philanthropy is already starting to increase its work on climate. The UK Funder Commitment on Climate Change, which is aimed at UK trusts and foundations, now has 75 signatories, with combined assets of over £5 billion. Signatories range from relatively large foundations like Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to community foundations like the Sussex Community Foundation.

The UK Commitment has now been followed by similar commitments in France, Spain, Italy and Canada. An international version of the Funder Commitment is also being launched during COP26.

But these initiatives have so far not included individual donors and philanthropists. Today’s Individual Philanthropy Commitment on Climate Change is looking to change this. A world-first, it is aiming for at least 200 signatories by the time of the next COP summit in November 2022 to enable effective tracking of changes made by this important donor group.

 

The Commitment has 7 elements in its pledge, focused on:

1. Education and learning

2. Commitment of resources

3. Alignment with other activities

4. Investment Strategy

5. Lifestyle Choices

6. Influencing and advocacy

7. Transparency on progress

Read the Commitment in full

 

The new Individual Philanthropy Commitment is being launched by the Beacon Collaborative, which exists to encourage more private assets to be used for public good, and the Environmental Funders Network, a UK-based network of foundations, family offices and individual donors supporting environmental causes. The Commitment is also being backed by the Association of Charitable Foundations, which hosts the UK Funder Commitment on Climate Change, which is aimed at institutional trusts and foundations. 

Commenting on the launch Cath Dovey, co-founder of the Beacon Collaborative, said:

“Individual donors and philanthropists demonstrated their deep commitment to the causes they support through the pandemic. They also want to step up to the plate on climate change. The Individual Philanthropy Commitment on Climate Change is a framework for action that will help dedicated private donors and philanthropists stand shoulder-to-shoulder with professional grantmakers to support a positive transition to a net-zero world.” 

Jane Cabutti, Growing Philanthropy Director at the Environment Funders Network, said:

“Donors – and the charities they support – are already having a transformative effect in reducing emissions and helping adaptation to climate change, but it will take a rapid scaling of collective action to create the step-change we need to see. Climate change will affect every cause that donors care about, and every donor can have an impact in tackling climate change, through many aspects of their lives in addition to their philanthropy. The Individual Philanthropy Commitment provides a roadmap for action, as well as the support of a like-minded community. Please join us!”

Richard Hebditch, Director of External Affairs at the Association of Charitable Foundations, said:

“The launch of the Individual Philanthropy Commitment on Climate Change is very welcome and another sign of how philanthropy – whether individual or institutional – is recognising the threat that climate change poses to the causes it supports. Together with commitments from foundations, philanthropy in the UK can play a role alongside government and private sectors in supporting the transition to a net-zero carbon world as well as helping communities adapt to the changes that are needed.”


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