Europe at the forefront of the climate challenge

The European Union is a global leader in the transition to a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy. Playing a crucial role in international political efforts to tackle the climate challenge, Europe is one of the main players moving with urgency towards the Paris Agreement objectives. European targets for renewable energy, the electrification of cars and the phasing out of coal promise CO2 reductions of more than 40% by 2030. While ambitious, these goals represent the minimum level of change needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. A wave of mass mobilisation, from climate marches to school strikes, is pressuring politicians to go further and faster. As a free-market democracy and the world’s largest single market, Europe is a key laboratory for innovative business and progressive social reform. It promises to bring groundbreaking change to globalised industries, from shipping to finance to aviation. Europe also has the power to demonstrate to the world that tackling climate change can go hand in hand with economic growth, social justice and a better quality of life for all.

Yet Europe’s role as a global leader on climate change should not be taken for granted. It requires constant defending. The budgets of those with business interest in maintaining the status quo far outweigh the financial resources of those of civil society battling to protect the planet for future generations. Philanthropy has an important role to play in redressing that power balance, ensuring that public debates are free from bias, misinformation and abuse. Concerted action involving the widest possible range of actors is crucial to allow Europe to retain its leadership role.

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The ECF network – a unique reach

Climate change is a problem that affects us all, and therefore it is a problem for us to solve together. Politicians have to do their part, but so do financial institutions, businesses, private investors, and citizens. The ECF plays a vital role in supporting this crucial societal consensus and enabling forward-thinking solutions. We are not an institution, but rather a network of hundreds of organisations devoted to solving the climate crisis from every angle. Over 80% of the ECF funding goes directly into grants to our partners. Our role is to help set the agenda, innovate and strategise on a socially responsible transition to a net-zero emissions economy, design and run our own activities where others are not yet active, and raise new funds for the field.

The ECF strengthens European climate leadership at every level, from supporting local campaigns to informing EU policy making. We constantly seek out diverging viewpoints from across society, consulting labour unions, parenting groups, consumer groups and more to help define our goals. About 75% of our grants are distributed in Europe. Our grantee partners are active in most European countries and we have staff on the ground in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Poland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, Spain, and Turkey.

Europe's place in the world

Europe can also make a difference on the world stage, by demonstrating that tackling climate change can go hand in hand with strengthening employment, growth and quality of life. And by ensuring the issue remains front and centre of international politics, emphasising the urgency of the objectives of the Paris Agreement. There are also many industries that are fully globalised, from shipping to finance to aviation, and there Europe’s resolve can make a difference. Just as Europe can serve as a driver and innovator for climate action, it can also learn from other regions that are tackling the same problems, ranging from California’s rapid electrification of mobility to Costa Rica’s huge achievements in the domain of renewable electricity. This is how we will win the battle against climate change – by working together with, and learning from, each other.

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Areas of expertise

From cutting-edge research to passionate protest, the climate community is fighting for a better quality of life and a brighter future. Learn more about the concrete triumphs that are bringing us one step closer to net-zero.


Land Use

Reducing agriculture and forestry’s emission footprint while also maximising the ability of the land to draw down greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.

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Climate change policies are becoming central in the Spanish political landscape and citizens are increasingly becoming aware of the economic and social aspects of the climate crisis. The ECF’s Spanish Programme aims to support and improve fair transition policies that…

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South-East Europe

Building higher climate awareness and the know-how to conduct the transition to net-zero emissions in the South-East Europe region.

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Central Europe

Increasing public awareness and broadening climate coalition in Central Europe

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Supporting Poland’s timely development of an adequate response to the climate emergency

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Contributing to realising a low-carbon ‘Wirtschaftwunder’ ensuring sustainable jobs and a healthy and stable environment for the next generation

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Supporting climate ambition outside Europe, at country, regional, city and business levels

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Advancing domestic policies that drive emissions cuts in the real economy

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United Kingdom

Maintaining and strengthening the country’s history of strong societal consensus for decarbonisation and high environmental standards

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Industry & Innovation

Supporting policy to enable zero greenhouse gas emissions production processes and incentivise innovative models for the industry

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Moving from fossil power to renewables such as wind and solar

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Climate Planning & Laws

Winning credible legal commitments at EU and national level, underpinned by robust long-term planning frameworks

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Making Europe’s building stock fit for the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions future

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Aligning the financial system and financial flows with the Paris Agreement

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Reducing the impact of transport on climate, improving health and bolstering Europe’s economy

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