Building on COP28 – next steps for the charity sector

03 January 2024

By Tim Glynne-Jones

Another United Nations climate summit has been and gone (that’s 28 now), so what has been achieved? And how can charities build on the outcomes of COP28 to continue driving forward measures to curb global warming and protect the natural environment?

Advocacy – Keep the pressure up

COP28 concluded with a headline grabbing agreement to “transition away from fossil fuels”. While this was a significant step in the right direction, particularly given that the oil and gas rich UAE was hosting the summit, it shrouded the fact that measured implemented to keep global warming below the 1.5˚C limit are falling short.

Further to that, the funds being made available by wealthier nations to help countries that have already suffered climate catastrophe are woefully inadequate. COP28 saw the launch of the Loss and Damage Fund for this very purpose, but initial pledges amount to just over US$700million. Christian Aid, a leading campaigner for this fund, has estimated a requirement in the region of the £12.5billion.

That means that countries like the UK, which has pledged just £60million to the fund (money that was already committed to tackling climate change) need vigorous encouragement to do better!

Another pot that needs filling is The Adaptation Fund, set up to help vulnerable countries to respond to the climate crisis. The $188million in new pledges that came in at COP28 is less than half of the $425million required to fund all the projects in the pipeline.

It is incumbent upon the governments of wealthy countries to find the money to fill these pots by making the polluters pay. UK charities have a big part to play in campaigning for this ooutcome.

Form powerful partnerships

Another first at COP28 was the convening of a Business & Philanthropy Climate Forum (BPCF). It has long been recognised that the private sector has a vital role to play in tackling climate change but this was the first time that a platform had been provided for business leaders to work together to “lead the charge towards achieving net zero emissions, preserving biodiversity, and creating a more sustainable, prosperous world for all”.

So who is going to inform and advise the world’s CEOs how they can apply their collective clout? Who has the knowledge of climate science and the impact of private enterprise on the environment? Who has been thinking through these problems and coming up with solutions for decades?

The charity sector has knowledge and experience in abundance on the subjects of climate change and the natural world. The formation of the BPCF highlights an opportunity for charities and businesses to form potent partnerships to ensure that corporate wealth is not squandered on greenwashing but spent on meaningful projects that make a real difference.

Charities with something to offer in this respect should not wait to be asked. There will be a lot of CEOs with good intentions scratching their heads wondering how they can make their business a force for change. Go and tell them!

Put your own house in order

While charities are advising the private sector on net zero, biodiversity, climate impact and other aspects of the environmental agenda, it’s important to remember they are, themselves, energy consuming, waste emitting entities with a responsibility to minimise their own impact on the natural world.

To paraphrase a famous saying, environmental responsibility begins at home. Every charity should have its own net zero strategy, setting a target date for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero (this can include offsetting) and detailing the steps towards achieving that goal. If you haven’t already, make 2024 the year you set down your environmental pledge and put it into action.

If you would like some advice on setting a net zero strategy, or developing partnerships with private companies, please get in touch.

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