Grassroots climate activists like Extinction Rebellion are set to receive £500,000 from US philanthropists with the promise of millions more in the coming months.
Three wealthy donors – Trevor Neilson, Rory Kennedy and Aileen Getty – have launched the Climate Emergency Fund (CEF) to help support school strikes and activism groups like Extinction Rebellion.
“This might be the single best chance we have to stop the greatest emergency we have ever faced,” Mr Neilson told The Guardian. He said he hoped the fund will be increased “a hundred times” in the coming months as investors pledge to ask wealthy friends to contribute.
On its website the CEF says it wants to support activists committing their lives to addressing the climate emergency. Money has already been pledged to Extinction Rebellion groups in New York and Los Angeles.
“We believe that only a peaceful planet-wide mobilisation on the scale of World War II will give us a chance to avoid the worst-case scenarios and restore a safe climate,” the website reads.
“These individuals and groups need our support as they carry out legal, nonviolent activities to demand that our leaders take action to ban ecologically destructive practices and save as much life as possible.”
The programme offers three levels of funding. The first is a start-up package which gives funding for printed materials and other supplies necessary for activists to start a demonstration.
The next level is funding for activist groups looking to create a permanent organisation, and the last level of funding is for activist groups that need to provide people with salaries, housing stipends, office space and marketing material.
The programme aims to force leaders to declare a climate emergency and create suitable policy solutions. The CEF is pushing for the global phasing out of fossil fuel infrastructure and creation of non-fossil fuel energy sources and carbon capture and storage solutions.
It comes after the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that the world could see a climate disaster as soon as 2030.
Extinction Rebellion has welcomed the funding.
A spokesperson said: “It’s a signal that we are coming to a tipping point. In the past, philanthropy has often been about personal interest, but now people are realising that we are all in this together and putting their money forward for our collective wellbeing.”
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