Jake Hayman, CEO of Ten Years’ Time, urges civil society leaders to respond to the climate crisis and shares actionable ideas to join the fight against climate change in a blog for the ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations).
Whether or not your charity has a box ticked in its memorandum and articles saying that you have a specific focus on the prevention of climate change, the current global emergency is relevant for every charity, just as it is relevant to every individual, every leader and every employer.
If you are an ACEVO member then you are the CEO or senior leader of an organisation in one of the most trusted sectors we have. That comes with a duty to be aware of things beyond our direct line of sight. When every scientist you can find says that we need to act, that is a call for you to lead and your organisation to act.
It’s time for every charity to respond to the urgency. Here’s a seven-step guide to how you can do that:
- Declare a climate emergency: call a joint staff-trustee meeting to discuss climate change, share a briefing on the science and discuss what it could mean for your work and the communities you serve. Consult your communities if you need to. If you are prepared to act then tell your world. Use your website and other communications channels to declare that you recognise that there is a climate emergency, and that you are looking at how best you can respond and that we all need to act.
- Find and use your climate voice: use 20% of your communications space to raise awareness about different organisations directly working to prevent climate collapse and encourage engagement with them. Whether it’s one in five tweets highlighting climate change work or a fifth of every newsletter you send linking to campaigns and petitions, find your climate voice. Start with the Climate Coalition for content. And if you want to progress to more grassroots climate justice organisations, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Client Earth, the UK Student Climate Network or Extinction Rebellion are among the groups that need your voice the most.
- Pay your climate emergency tax: the climate movement receives less than 1% of UK philanthropy and it is totally and utterly starved for money. If you can, put 1% of your income aside as a ‘voluntary tax’ to help fight climate change. You can either give it to a pooled fund or pick a partner (such as one of those above). I know many of our organisations and causes are starved for money as well, but this is an investment in your mission not outside of it.
- Follow the BBC guide: this helpful guide says that you should go renewable with your energy, go vegan in your office (start veggie if you need to) and at your events and look up the OneHome website for more ideas on how to decarbonise your world.
- Pay your air tax: put aside just as much as you spend on every flight to support afforestation programmes. If that motivates you to take fewer flights, great news.
- Use your money: whether you have £100m in the bank or just a small staff pension pot, that money will be doing one of two things – either supporting a carbon-intensive economy that will harm those people you exist to serve or financing an alternative. Call your pension fund providers and/or wealth managers, and ask them to align your money with a just transition to a low-carbon economy. If they don’t know what you are talking about, fire them and find some that do.
- Push your funders: ask for a carbon contribution of 1% on all new applications you put into funders to show them your commitment and encourage them to be partners in this.