Funding for environmental justice organizations is essential for carbon removal
Forging a path for community-centered funding
by Alayna Chuney, senior policy advisor and Ugbaad Kosar, deputy director of policy
Since the announcement of our Environmental Justice Initiative in 2020, we published a landmark report on equity and justice in carbon removal and have been working closely with EJ advocates and our advisory council to chart our next steps. Through this discovery process, we had conversations with local environmental justice organizations about barriers to engaging with climate policy, including carbon removal. Many of the communities these organizations represent are feeling the effects of climate change today, and to a greater degree than others. But funding for these organizations, particularly when they are BIPOC led, is severely lacking.
A study by InDEEP found that in the five year period from 2014 through 2018, a total of $3.7 billion was awarded in the environmental and conservation field, with $3.2 billion going to white-led organizations and $498 million going to BIPOC-led organizations. Inequitable funding opportunities create significant hurdles for EJ organizations working to engage in policy discussions and achieve their justice goals. EJ groups are trusted actors and primary sources of information within the communities they protect and represent. If climate policy is to be developed and implemented responsibly, communities need to have appropriate resources and information to be able to engage in the decision-making processes of nearby carbon removal and other climate-related projects. All climate projects need authentic community buy-in to not only break ground but be successful.
Today, Carbon180 is announcing our regranting effort to support local EJ organizations looking to build their knowledge on and capacity to explore carbon removal so that they are equipped to decide if and how carbon removal is developed in their communities.
Carbon180’s regranting effort
To support EJ organizations in learning about carbon removal and defining equitable and just CDR, Carbon180 is making two-year grants to a selection of organizations in support of their general operations and carbon removal work, including internal knowledge building, community engagement, and policy development.
Our goal is to give these organizations the opportunity to create their own informed opinions regarding carbon removal in order to determine whether it is aligned with their mission and vision. We’re also hopeful that this will support EJ advocates in learning about carbon removal in order to meaningfully contribute to policy and shape the future of CDR in line with their priorities. To fully integrate EJ considerations into climate policy, organizations need to have access to funding that supports their holistic operations and allows for an intersectional approach to their work.
A number of best practices for funding EJ organizations were illuminated throughout our conversations over the last year, and we integrated these into our grantmaking process.
- General operations spending: Offer funding for organizational operations — project-specific funding can be restrictive when considering the intersectional theory of change of many EJ organizations.
- Streamlined administrative requirements: Ease the administrative burden associated with traditional grantmaking by requiring streamlined updates and reporting requirements.
- Long-term grants: Offer grants longer than one year to allow organizations to ramp up work and set themselves up for success.
- Don’t influence outcomes: Avoid predetermined expectations of funding outcomes other than genuine engagement and effort to explore the topics at hand.
- Additional support: Identify other ways to support grantees outside of funding by offering cross-learning opportunities and direct connections to your funder network.
It starts with funding
Funding is crucial for not just bringing advocates to the table but supporting them in leading the conversation. Those feeling the impacts of climate change today need the opportunity to determine which solutions are pursued. With proper funding, EJ organizations can be equipped with the necessary knowledge and resources for these conversations. They can facilitate community participation in policymaking processes and represent the realities of intersecting injustices. Though this work starts with funding, building an equitable and just carbon-removing future will require finding many ways to reroute power back to communities.
It’s going to take a field-wide effort to ensure community-centered funding, and we’re excited to continue sharing our learnings from this process over the next two years. For more on our approach to EJ and carbon removal, read Removing Forward: Centering Equity and Justice in a Carbon-Removing Future.