Climate Action Fund

 Since 2009, the Climate Action Fund has given grants to eleven extraordinary grassroots organizations working to defend their communities and their environment from the fossil fuel industry. 

Increases in global awareness of greenhouse gas emissions have helped fuel demand for carbon emissions offset programs, providing businesses and organizations with a voluntary way to mitigate their emissions contributions from transportation, energy use, and other sources. While carbon offset programs can appear attractive at first glance, closer examination reveals they can have significant problems. Scientists estimate that upwards of 75 percent of carbon offset projects are doing nothing to slow climate change. 

Based on the success of Protect-an-Acre, RAN launched The Climate Action Fund (CAF) in 2009 as a way to direct resources and support frontline communities and Indigenous peoples challenging the fossil fuel industry. Initially started as a way of taking responsibility for our own carbon footprint, CAF is now a fully-fledged program for businesses and organizations looking for an alternative to traditional, markets-based offset programs. CAF directs resources in the form of small grants to frontline activist groups directly tackling the root causes of climate change: the extraction and combustion of dirty fossil fuels such as coal and oil. 

Unlike traditional offset programs, contributions to the Climate Action Fund are tax-deductible and go directly toward supporting communities and providing tactical leverage to stop climate change at its source. 

In theory, a carbon offset is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions made in one place in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere. Rather than reduce its own pollution, a business pays someone, somewhere else in the world, a lower price to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and then takes credit for their contribution. Sounds good, but does it really work?

A recent report estimates that of the $700 million dollars invested in carbon offsets around the world, offset buyers:

“… are often buying vague promises instead of the reductions in greenhouse gases they expect.  They are buying into projects that are never completed, or paying for ones that would have been done anyhow, the investigation found. Their purchases are feeding middlemen and promoters seeking profits from green schemes that range from selling protection for existing trees to the promise of planting new ones that never thrive. In some cases, the offsets have consequences that their purchasers never foresaw, such as erecting windmills that force poor people off their farms. Carbon offsets are the environmental equivalent of financial derivatives: complex, unregulated, unchecked and – in many cases – not worth their price.”(1)

In a separate study, Stanford University researchers found that up to 2/3 of offsets in international markets are not delivering any additional reduction in emissions compared to business as usual, which means that buyers are getting ripped off and the offsets are doing nothing to slow climate change.(2) The attempt to ‘buy’ our way out of climate change has created a corrupt system with little accountability that fails to reduce emissions.

At RAN, we began the Climate Action Fund (CAF) to take a fundamentally different approach.  Starting with our own organization, we calculate the annual carbon emissions associated with our operations, including travel. Rather than wait for governments to put a price on carbon that reflects the true environmental and social costs of carbon emissions, we apply an internal price – effectively a fee – on our carbon footprint. The money generated is then invested directly in frontline community groups that are organizing against the extraction and combustion of dirty fossil fuels.  Strengthening the work of frontline communities is an essential contribution to securing just, effective and meaningful action on climate change.

The Climate Action Fund is also open to individuals and businesses and enables you to support CAF financed actions to tackle the root causes of climate change.  The Climate Action Fund contributes directly to community organizations that are fighting to protect land, people, and keep millions of tons of CO2 in the ground.

Click here to get started.

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Lindsey Allen is a world-class campaigner with more than a decade of experience and an unmatched track record pressuring and inspiring some of the world’s largest corporations to protect rainforests. Allen has spent her career preventing commodity expansion into globally critical forest areas, and has played a central role in achieving some of the most significant corporate policy commitments to protect forests over the past decade.
Rainforest Action Network campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. The strength of this Network stems from the bold activists, engaged donors, dedicated online advocates, frontline allies and vigilant organizations that work with us to challenge corporate power and to stand for thriving ecosystems around the globe.