3 April 2008 – This week, the first philanthropic organisation solely dedicated to reducing CO2 in Europe – the European Climate Foundation (ECF) – was officially established.
The foundation aims to be a powerful enabler for action on climate change in Europe, promoting climate and energy policies that greatly reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and help Europe play an even stronger international leadership role in mitigating climate change.
The ECF is led by Jules Kortenhorst, a former member of the Dutch parliament for the Christian Democratic Party, CDA. Earlier, Kortenhorst was a successful business leader and entrepreneur. The function of Policy Director is filled by Martin Rocholl, former director of Friends of the Earth Europe in Brussels, who has over 30 years of experience as a volunteer and professional in environmental NGO’s. Together, Kortenhorst and Rocholl will combine their experience to build a new organization that will work with governments, businesses and civil society to address the climate change problem in Europe. George Polk, who played a pivotal role in setting up the foundation over the past year, will remain actively involved as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the ECF.
Asked about his motivation, Jules Kortenhorst says: “It is a great honour and responsibility to take charge of the European Climate Foundation. I believe climate change is the single biggest challenge facing humanity. All available resources of governments, civil society and business and must be directed towards tackling this problem. With the ECF, we look forward to being a part of that effort.”
Europe is a critical arena in the fight against climate change for two reasons. Firstly, it is one of the largest sources of global warming pollution, behind only the U.S. and China. Secondly, European governments appear to be committing to sizeable emissions reductions, leading global regulation and promising political commitment. However, the implementation steps being taken by most European countries and the EU are not yet sufficient. If Europe meets its current level of commitments and continues to improve them, it will serve as an example to the world. Conversely, if Europe backtracks it will severely undercut global efforts to meet the climate challenge.
The ECF is part of a global network of regional philanthropies dedicated to funding climate and energy policies that lead to significant reductions in carbon emissions, including the Energy Foundation in the United States and the China Sustainable Energy Programme.
The ECF will be dedicated to developing and implementing climate and energy policies that greatly reduce Europe’s global greenhouse gas emissions. It will focus primarily on activities, initiatives and solutions that lead to tangible results within the following priority areas: energy efficiency, low-carbon power generation, transportation, EU climate policies, and EU climate diplomacy. In accomplishing its goals, the ECF will regrant the majority of its funds to non-governmental organisations engaged in trying to bring about meaningful policy change. The organisation will generally not seek public attention for its efforts, but prefers to highlight the success of those who are actually doing the work.