The European Climate Foundation (ECF) was established in early 2008 as a major philanthropic initiative to promote climate and energy policies that greatly reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to help Europe play an even stronger international leadership role to mitigate climate change.
The group of philanthropists who founded the ECF were deeply concerned over the lack of political action and the lack of general public awareness around the devastating future consequences implied by climate change. They formed the ECF – a ‘foundation of foundations’ – to collaborate in ensuring the necessary transformation from a high-carbon to a low-carbon economy.
The ECF has an annual budget of roughly €25 million. The majority of their funds are re-granted to NGOs and think tanks engaged in bringing about meaningful policy change. Their programme staff collaborate with grantees and experts from the field and funders to design and fund strategies based on a thorough understanding of decision-makers, decision-making processes, and political context. In 2012, they made 181 grants to 102 organisations.
What they do:
Supporting the transformation to a low-carbon economy requires a multifaceted strategy and a carefully selected portfolio of initiatives. Advocating for effective policy frameworks for reducing CO2 emissions in key industries and fostering investment in clean technologies is a critical first step. But it is only the first step. They also must work towards global agreements and EU directives flowing through to national laws and regulations, and verify that implementation leads to actual mitigation of climate change.
To that end, the ECF organises their programme staff and grant-making along three dimensions: sector programmes, cross-cutting initiatives, and geographic initiatives.
The biggest potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Europe lies in shifting the power and transport sectors from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources and increasing the energy efficiency of buildings, cars, trucks, and a wide range of industrial products and consumer appliances.
In addition to driving climate policies within specific sectors and geographies, there is important work to be done across venues. Through their cross-cutting initiatives, they seek to create a robust case for green growth, strengthen ambitions in international and regional forums, and promote research that proves climate change is truly a global threat.
-EU Climate Policies
-International Policies & Politics
Their primary geographic focus is on Brussels (the hub of EU policymaking), Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Poland – five venues that play a critical role determining Europe’s political leadership on climate and energy policy. Beyond these core venues, they undertake short-term projects to build coalitions of stakeholders, create regional policymaker networks, and test new model initiatives that have the potential to be replicable and scalable across the EU.
A low-carbon society for prosperity and energy security
The European Climate Foundation (ECF) – a ‘foundation of foundations’ – was established in early 2008 as a major philanthropic initiative to help Europe foster the development of a low-carbon society and play an even stronger international leadership role to mitigate climate change.
Supporting the development of a low-carbon society
In a low-carbon society, citizens would live and work in energy efficient buildings with intelligent heating and cooling systems. People would drive electric and hybrid cars and live in cleaner cities with less air pollution and better public transport. Industries would be characterised by high levels of efficiency and lower emissions. Besides cutting the vast majority of its emissions, Europe would reduce its use of key resources like oil and gas, raw materials, land and water. This, in turn, would lessen dependency on energy imports and contribute to increased economic stability and security of supply.
Staying below 2°C of warming relative to pre-industrial levels
However, at current rates of atmospheric pollution, climate change will decisively alter the environment and standards of living. According to estimates by the IPCC, global annual emissions will rise from today’s 50 Gt CO2 to 68 Gt CO2 by 2030 if current trends continue. During the coming 15 years, annual emissions will need to be scaled down to 42 Gt CO2 if they are to stand a chance of staying below 2°C of warming relative to pre-industrial levels and prevent major climate instabilities, economic and social harm, and existential risks.
Balancing climate protection, energy security and economic growth
The core challenge is to address path dependencies in the transition and find a balance among climate change mitigation, energy security needs, and competitiveness and growth challenges. While a clean energy system lies at the heart of a low-carbon society, existing energy systems based predominantly on fossil fuels have been built up and optimised over decades. Beyond step-by-step improvements, decarbonisation comes with fundamental character changes in terms of energy choices, infrastructure and sector integration, and energy market designs. Systems and markets will have to be redeveloped in Europe and around the world.
Where is European Climate Foundation (ECF)