Philanthropists are set to apply a new lens to reinforce the impact of their work in the face of climate change.
Climate change is set to reshape philanthropy as the severity of climate impacts such as heat waves, bush fires, poor air quality, and flooding affects every community.
“Australian funders are realising that climate change affects everyone but it doesn't affect everyone equally,” AEGN Environmental Program Manager Climate Change, Daisy Barham, says. “It is the most disadvantaged in our society that are already bearing the brunt of climate impacts.”
Many of the communities that rely on philanthropic support are severely affected by disasters like bushfires and floods. Others are less resilient to climate change’s ongoing impact, such as low-income households struggling with rising electricity bills or people with chronic health conditions.
It has spurred the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) to launch a Climate Lens tool (available at aegn.org.au/climate-lens) to help philanthropic funders mitigate the worst impacts of climate change and enhance their ability to create positive social change.
“Climate impacts are no longer something that we talk about as happening many generations away. It's a problem that Australian communities and people around the world are already grappling with,” Barham says.
“The AEGN Climate Lens aims to be practical with case studies, tangible checklists, and recommendations that people can start doing today.”
The Climate Lens outlines how climate change is deepening inequality across seven broad philanthropic sectors. For example, First Nations Australians in New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT, and Jervis Bay Territory were twice as likely to be directly affected by the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires than their non-Indigenous neighbours.
The Climate Lens also provides practical steps, including case studies, to help organisation’s incorporate climate action in their own unique ways.
One organisation decided to require all grantees to show that they’re working towards a zero-carbon future while another organisation providing whitegoods to people in crisis switched to energy-efficient models.
Barham says there are many ways to incorporate a climate lens and the strong AEGN community can help support organisations make a start.
“There are many Australian funders that are grappling with climate change and they’re only too happy to share their experience.”
The Climate Lens is likely to amplify the fight against climate change, with only around five per cent of philanthropic giving in Australia historically directed to the environment. However, climate philanthropy is rapidly increasing around the world at 14 times the rate of overall philanthropy, Barham says.
“Every dollar spent preventing further climate change saves the need for many more dollars to fix things up after climate disasters.”
The AEGN is supported by a number of trusts managed by Equity Trustees, including the Robert Hicks Foundation, which helped fund the Climate Lens.
Access the AEGN’s Climate Lens tool at aegn.org.au/climate-lens.
Join the AEGN’s Climate Lens Community of Practice — monthly sessions begin February 2024.
To find out more, contact Farema@aegn.org.au.