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United Kingdom

The ECF’s UK Programme exists to help broaden and deepen the political consensus for decarbonisation while securing actions to put Britain on track for net-zero and prevent the weakening of environmental standards. As the next phase of emission cuts involves the front of house decisions about how we heat our home and what kind of car we drive, we aim to strengthen and improve the diversity of the public debate to ensure a fair transition that continues to enjoy strong public support.

We aim to leverage progress within the UK, internationally, to support European and global efforts on climate change, and to help deliver a breakthrough at the COP26 summit in Glasgow through new emission-reduction commitments, both short and long-term, and increased availability of climate finance for vulnerable countries.

Bogdan Todoran Vyvgzhlkib8 Unsplash

Key challenges

In 2019, the UK became the first major economy to put net-zero emissions by 2050 into law. Since then, Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has pledged to use this target to deliver on a “levelling up” agenda to support less prosperous parts of the UK.

  • The UK has already made huge progress in decarbonising electricity, largely thanks to its coal phase-out and offshore wind investment. Transport has taken on increased importance as the UK’s largest (and still growing) GHG-emitting sector, with the government committing to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. A new Transport Decarbonisation Strategy is needed to set out milestones towards this phase-out date and commit to spending and regulatory measures along the way, alongside clean air legislation to help ensure healthier air across the country.
  • New policies are also required to decarbonise heating and buildings, pioneer cleaner technologies for industries like steel and aviation, and sequester carbon through land use and carbon capture and storage (CCS). Together, these actions must put the UK on track to meet its target of a 68% cut in emissions on 1990 levels by 2030.
  • The next phase of the transition will involve tricky new policies to, for example, replace gas boilers and phase-out petrol and diesel cars. To mitigate risks of the debate becoming polarised, and secure the consent and active participation of the public, policies will need to take into account the distributional impacts of these changes and be perceived by the public as fair.

Mission

Through the ECF’s UK grant-making Programme, we seek to:

  • Sustain the UK’s international leadership role on climate as hosts of both the G7 and UN climate summit (COP26). We aim to influence and support the UK government’s diplomatic efforts in order to drive up ambition among other major economies and ensure the UK delivers a successful G7 and COP26. A good outcome will rely on big advances on closing the global emissions gap against the 1.5°C Paris target via enhanced NDCs and climate finance for developing countries.
  • Build the political and societal conditions for continued progress on climate. We aim to reach a much broader swathe of the public by enacting rich audience insights and working with more diverse partners at a local level and through cultural spaces. This work will help create the right political conditions for ambitious climate policies by demonstrating the strength of the climate consensus among key electoral demographics.
  • Deliver emissions cuts in the real economy, with a focus on approaches that can be replicated in other geographies. We aim to secure new policies to deliver the phase-out of petrol and diesel sales by 2030, alongside traffic reduction and clean air measures in cities. We also aim to secure new steps to curb emissions from heating, achieve power sector decarbonisation by 2035, and initiate pilots of cleaner technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) and green steel production.
  • Encourage collaboration and alignment on climate change with the EU27 and countries around the world. This can come to life through UK trade deals aligned with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, robust post-Brexit environmental governance, and international initiatives on climate such as the Powering Past Coal Alliance.

How we work

The ECF identifies gaps in the UK’s response to the climate crisis by funding and sometimes creating organisations with the right expertise and public profile to address key issues. We take a broad approach to the types of interventions we fund – from litigation, advocacy and activism, to research and media engagement – because all of this activity builds towards an ambitious, strategic and thoughtful climate movement that reflects the full diversity of our society. Together with our grantees we seek a secure and sustainable future for all.