Climate Action Fund Grant Application Guidelines
The Climate Action Fund (CAF) was established in 2009 to award small grants to frontline community groups that are fighting to prevent fossil fuels from being extracted and/or the construction of large point sources of greenhouse gas emissions. CAF is a grassroots alternative to carbon offset programs. Instead of purchasing carbon credits, funds will be used to empower frontline communities to keep fossil fuels in the ground where they belong.
Project must fit one of two basic categories:
- Local resistance by frontline and impacted communities to prevent the extraction of fossil fuels such as coal, tar sands, oil and gas
- Local resistance by frontline and impacted communities to decommission or to prevent the construction of large point sources of greenhouse gas emissions (a large point source is defined as any source larger than 100,000 tons of CO2)
Applications are evaluated on the following criteria:
- Applicant’s capacity to carry out proposed activities
- Project strategy and urgency/includes well-defined objectives and planned activities
- Involves community organizing and mobilization as a major strategy towards achieving its goal/ the community where the project is centered and/or that will be impacted by the initiative is engaged in the decision-making process related to the activities
- Achievement of applicant goals would result in a significant positive climate mitigation impact
- Project honors and upholds diversity and equity
- Activities would be significantly enhanced by a small grant/applicant’s annual budget (under $150,000 is prioritized), overall access to resources and previous funding from RAN
Although grants are made in all regions and unsolicited proposals are welcome, geographic priority areas are South and North America. Applicants from other regions are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org prior to submitting an application to inquire regarding the possibility of funding.
CAF does not support individual, governmental, or exclusively academic projects. Grants generally do not exceed $2,500. Certain components of projects with larger budgets can be funded when those components significantly contribute to the project’s final outcome. Organizations representing communities of color and/or with limited access to resources will receive priority in funding.
Only completed applications will be considered. Applicants will be informed within 4 weeks if their application has been short-listed or declined. The final decision on short-listed projects can take a couple of weeks longer, depending on how quickly references come back and how long it takes to resolve any inquiries regarding the application. If the application is urgent please make this clear when it is submitted.
Rainforest Action Network
c/o Small Grants Programs Manager
425 Bush Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94108
The Climate Action Fund was established by RAN in 2009 to award grants to frontline community groups that are fighting to prevent fossil fuels from being extracted. CAF is a grassroots alternative to carbon offset programs. Instead of purchasing carbon credits, funds are used to empower frontline communities to keep fossil fuels in the ground where they belong.
The U'wa are an Indigenous community of more than 6,000 individuals who have lived in the cloud forests of the Colombian Andes for thousands of years. At the heart of their culture is the belief that the land which has sustained them for centuries is sacred, and that they exist to protect that land.
Their ten-plus year international struggle in defense of their life, land, and culture successfully forced Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum to abandon plans to drill for oil on U’wa territory in 2002. However, the U'wa people and territory are once again threatened by the Colombian state oil and gas firm Ecopetrol, which this year has intensified exploration activities within U’wa ancestral territory.
In late March, guerilla forces, engaged in a decades-long conflict with the Colombian government, bombed the Cano Limon oil pipeline – which runs through part of the U’wa territory transporting 80,000 barrels daily – creating toxic pollution that caused severe health issues for several U’wa individuals. The U’wa, exercising their rights within their own legal territory, demanded a direct dialogue with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos that led to an agreement to allow the pipeline to be repaired after a tense 40-day stand-off.
As part of the agreement, Ecopetrol suspended its immediate plans to drill for gas at the Magallanes site that is situated just north of the U’wa reserve, but which falls within the ancestral territory of three U’wa communities.
A Climate Action Fund (CAF) grant from RAN was given at this time to support the U’wa continuing to work in conjunction with allies to raise awareness within Colombia, including among U’wa communities, and around the world to safeguard their rights, territory and lives.
A recent statement by the High Council of the U’wa Indigenous Association of Colombia details the activities of the U’wa in defense of their land and rights. The emergency Climate Action Fund grant was given towards supporting these activities:
For the U'wa people, 2014 has been characterized by a reinvigoration of our struggle against extractive projects within our ancestral territories. We have carried out internal actions like community meetings, assemblies, gatherings with traditional authorities, cultural events, group gatherings and spiritual orientations. At the same time, we have carried out actions to bring to light the resource extraction problem in both national and international scenarios. We have reactivated our support network of organizations that defend the environment and human rights and we have placed the U'wa territory issue on the agenda of the Colombian national government.
The U'wa held several meetings with the national government. In each meeting the U’wa emphasized the urgent need for the government to effectively guarantee their territorial rights and cancel all natural resource extraction projects within their ancestral territory, including the Magallanes gas exploration project.
The U’wa Traditional Authorities and Councils (ASOU’WA) announced in a recent statement that the outcome of this process is that Ecopetrol is disassembling and removing drilling equipment associated with cancelling plans to move forward with the Magallanes project. The consistent effort on the part of the U'wa and their supporters has stopped a project that seemed inevitable just a few months ago, although it will not be a permanent victory until Ecopetrol cancels plans for the project outright.
The statement goes on to call this a “step toward the continual protection of our mother nature in her entirety, toward safeguarding the integrity of our ancient people and guaranteeing the physical and cultural permanence of the members who make up all of our communities.”
ASOU’WA also expressed thanks to “all the unconditional support offered by different local, regional, national, and international organizations that accompany our dignified and just struggle in defense of the environment and the U’wa nation’s ancestral culture.”
RAN is proud to have supported the U’wa in their ongoing struggle to protect their lives, culture and ancestral territory in the cloud forest they call home.
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.