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Some of the leading scientists in the U.K. have written an open letter to the country’s 100 largest charitable foundations and the 100 wealthiest families, asking for an “extraordinary increase” in their funding of environmental action against climate change.
“A letter like this has never been sent from our community to yours,” say the 11 scientists, among them Chris Rapley, professor of Climate Science at University College London and Sir David King, a former government chief scientific adviser.
Currently, less than 2% of all giving by U.K. philanthropists is deployed to counter climate threats, meaning they are “desperately under-funded”, says the letter.
Co-ordinator of the letter and CEO of Climate Alliance, Angela Terry, believes this is not enough. “I would say 10% as a minimum should be put towards these causes,” she told Forbes.
“We are calling on them to mobilise their resources, whether through endowments, personal wealth or grant giving, to halt our ecological crisis”.
The causes themselves are important as just £105 million ($130.8 million) out of £4 billion ($4.9 billion) of all trust and foundation giving goes towards the environment, says the Environmental Funders Network. And a high proportion of this focuses on conservation rather than climate change.
Climate Change Will Make You Poorer
“The first thing to do now is to have a look at this subject and look at how it will impact you, your family, your wealth”, says Terry.
For some, the stark realities of a changing change affecting their children’s lives will drive the point home. For others, it will be the bottom line: their wealth.
A report from the UN last week said that delaying the implementation of climate policies could cost the world’s top companies $1.2 trillion over the next 15 years.
As much as 13.2% of overall portfolio value is at risk if temperatures rise 1.5 degrees, the report says. “Considering that total assets under management (AUM) for the largest 500 investment managers in the world total $81.2 trillion, this would represent a value loss of $10.7 trillion.”
Such a loss would dent the fortunes of the world’s wealthiest.
Letter Shocks Foundations Into Action
“Our foundation never previously focused on climate change but I’ve been shocked”, wrote Sophie Marple, founder of the Gower St Foundation.
“We feel a duty to act and will commit a significant portion of our funding to critical environmental work moving forward. As this letter from scientists shows us, there’s no longer any space for separation between ‘environmental’ and ‘social’ philanthropy,” she said.
Others are following suit, a spokesperson from the Wellcome Trust told the BBC it wanted to expand its work on links between human health and the climate.
While it said it had not yet received the scientists’ letter, a spokesperson from the Sigrid Rausing Trust, said, “We are interested in approaches that recognise the interdependency of people and nature, and that lead to systemic change.”
Foundations owned by the two of the U.K’s wealthiest billionaires – the Hinduja brothers and Sir James Ratcliffe – did not respond to a request for comment.
For those wealthy donors that are not yet giving to the climate cause, the letter does not prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution.
Donors should look from “civil society and social movements, to green investment in research and innovation, to strategic litigation and public education,” the letter advises.
“Look at things you care about depending on where you’re geographically based or where your investments are,” says Terry
“There is no aspect of our lives that is not being impacted”.
May 23, 2019 at 07:34AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs