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 ECF’s areas of expertise and the concrete triumphs that are bringing us one step closer to net-zero. Read more.