When we look back on the past decades of climate action, I believe we will see 2018 as a turning point. Record heatwaves across Europe, Japan, the US; fires in Greece, Australia, Sweden, California; flooding across India, and Japan; hurricanes and typhoons in the US, the Philippines, and Hong Kong—this is just a cross-section of the record-breaking extreme weather events, amplified by climate change. Climate change is no longer an abstract, distant threat—it is affecting and even killing people here and now.
And of course, this was reinforced by the release of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. This was a clarion call, definitively making it clear that we need to take action on an unprecedented scale and timeline—the low-carbon transition will need to transform our societies and economies across industries, our diets, our land use, our urban systems—and we will need to do it soon. The scientists have told us clearly: we only have 12 years left to have a chance of setting the world on a trajectory to limit warming to 1.5°C.
The 1.5°C report also told us that emissions will need to reach net-zero by mid-century. This net-zero by 2050 goal has been the ECF’s guiding principle going back to the ground-breaking Roadmap 2050 report. Now with the 2050 Pathways Platform, the Carbon Neutrality Coalition and the Net-Zero 2050 initiative, we are aligning all our work around this goal.
2018 was a turning point for the world and the climate cause, including the emergence of new voices demanding action, particularly from the youth. And at the ECF, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary. This was a moment for us to pause and reflect on the role of strategic philanthropy and how we can continue to adapt our strategies, approaches, and partnerships in a rapidly-changing landscape.
I often think of the ECF as a toolbox—able to take a high-level of the interactions between sectors and countries and between local, regional, and national; and to deploy the appropriate tools for maximum impact. This approach of course could not be possible without the constellation of grantees and partners we work with.
You will read later in this report about some of the major developments and accomplishments in Europe in the last year—the world-leading EU targets (products of work going back far longer!), the Governance Regulation, the massive public engagement and mobilisation of citizens we’ve seen across Europe. In record-high public concern about climate and air quality now means support for a phase out of coal—truly a sea change.
It’s been a remarkable last decade for the organisation, and I am excited to see what we can achieve together in the years to come!
Chief Executive Officer
It is a pleasure to present this Annual Report, the first in my capacity as Chair of the ECF Supervisory Board. Last year I was honoured to be asked to succeed Caio Koch-Weser in this role.