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United Kingdom

The ECF’s UK Programme exists to build the public and political mandate for effective climate policies and leverage success internationally. Historically, climate policy in the UK has been characterised by high levels of political agreement and civil society engagement, with the country becoming the first in the world to require legally-binding cuts in carbon emissions through the Climate Change Act in 2008, amended in 2019 to commit to net zero by 2050. Now, as a major economy that has entered a shallow recession, and recognising the global reach of UK media and cultural institutions, the challenge is to show how political and public consensus can be sustained to tackle trickier parts of the transition.

Bogdan Todoran Vyvgzhlkib8 Unsplash

Key challenges

  • The UK has already made huge progress in decarbonising electricity, largely thanks to its coal phase-out and offshore wind investment. However, in the coming decade, renewables must grow to dominate power generation. This will require grid upgrades alongside the deployment of clean balancing technologies like batteries and hydrogen, as well as a more proactive and strategic approach from regulators and the planning system on land and at sea.
  • At the same time, household energy bills are likely to remain at record highs due to international gas prices. This highlights the urgent need to decouple the cost of renewable energy from fossil gas and to boost funding and skills pipelines for energy efficiency measures, such as insulation and heat pumps, where the UK is among the worst-performing in Europe.
  • Transport has taken on increased importance as the UK’s largest (and still growing) greenhouse gas-emitting sector. The government has committed to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and introducing a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate from 2024 to 100% by 2035. Still missing from the picture is an industrial strategy to secure jobs and enhance supply chain resilience through a rapid and fair transition to electric vehicle (EV) production, and policies to reform fuel tax and ensure EVs are affordable for all.
  • Following the UK’s departure from the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), the government introduced the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) for England. This is designed to provide greater public value in return for public investment, including nature restoration and carbon sequestration. The three tiers of ELMS must enable landscape-scale initiatives and nature-friendly farming, at risk from political pushback, and there is a need for more funding to ensure a fair transition for family-run farms alongside larger agri-businesses.  
  • New policies are also required to pioneer cleaner technologies for industries like steel and aviation and sequester carbon through land use and carbon capture and storage (CCS).


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

  • Build the societal mandate for continued progress on climate by reaching a much broader swathe of the public through audience insights and by working with more diverse partners at a local level and in cultural spaces.
  • Help create the right political conditions for ambitious action by demonstrating the strength of the climate consensus among key electoral demographics, and defining constructive terrain for political competition.
  • Deliver emissions cuts in the real economy through policies that address the cost of living, jobs, growth and security challenges, focusing on approaches that can be replicated in other geographies. 
  • Encourage international collaboration on climate change through UK trade deals aligned with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and diplomatic efforts that help drive ambition among other major economies.

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 advocacy and activism to research and media and digital 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.


James Beard

Senior Associate, Transport Programme

Madeline Carroll

Director, UK Programme

Joss Garman

Executive Director Communications, Cultural Change & UK Programmes

Doree Marentette

Director, International Climate Accountability Programme

Amy Mount

Manager, UK Programme

Jessica Nicholls

Strategic Communications Lead, UK

Shara Samra

Associate, UK Programme