Climate change caused by human activity is threatening the well-being of humanity. The wealthiest countries and individuals are responsible for a disproportionate share of emissions, whilst the poorest countries and sections of society are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Similarly, our use of natural resources is unsustainable and unjust. Technological change is essential but not sufficient; fundamental changes to economic models and social norms will also be required, but there is not yet sufficient public or political consensus to make these changes.
JRCT is deeply concerned about climate change and its effects, and believes that our care for future generations morally compels us to play a part in tackling it. We see it as both a symptom of our unsustainable and unjust global economic system, and a cause of serious injustice and conflict both now and in the future. Addressing climate change will require long-term political, economic and social changes. Trustees are aware that there is much work to be done in this field and JRCT’s funds are limited.
At this time of crisis, JRCT is also keen to support work that responds to the dual harms of the Covid-19 pandemic and systemic racism. We have amended our funding policy below to reflect this.
As we have limited funding available, please read our policy aims and exclusions carefully in order to make the best use of your time. In 2021, just 15.3% of those who applied were successfully awarded a grant.
The overall focus is on developing and promoting sustainable, low-carbon alternatives to the current consumerist and growth-based paradigm. We will support a range of actions to achieve these aims, recognising this might include defending current policies, frameworks and regulations.
1. Better economics
Current economic systems encourage unsustainable growth and do not adequately reflect the true costs and risks of resource depletion, climate change and other environmental problems. We will fund work that:
- explores and promotes ways that well-being and sustainability, rather than traditional forms of economic growth, could be placed at the heart of public policy
- explores and promotes mechanisms that could better align business and investor behaviour with environmental sustainability and the long-term public interest
- researches and develops innovations and new practical models of enterprise that can be embedded within community practice
- challenges future investment in, or subsidies for, fossil fuels.
Recent projects funded under this strand:
- Finance Innovation Lab work with individuals within retail and commercial banks to support new financial models and to change the world of finance so it does not contribute to climate harm.
- Rethinking Economics work with universities to change the economics curriculum, making it more varied and fit for purpose following the financial crash of 2008.
2. Beyond consumerism
There is evidence that the ever higher levels of consumption, once basic needs for security and comfort are met, do not result in greater happiness or well-being. At the same time, such ever-increasing consumption is not environmentally sustainable, and contributes towards social problems including overwork, anxiety and loss of community. We will fund:
- campaigns, initiatives and mechanisms which encourage radical, large scale shifts in behaviour and culture away from consumerism towards more sustainable ways of living and using resources
- exploration of initiatives and models which promote positive alternatives to materialism for a more fulfilled life
- work which engages people individually and collectively in holistic and value-led approaches to transformed behaviour and lifestyle, as an alternative to consumerism.
Recent projects funded under this strand:
- Upper Space CIC seeks to remove corporate outdoor advertising from public spaces and replace it with community-generated art and imagery.
- Food Ethics Council work to change how we interact with food, shifting from consumer to citizen and recognising the agency of everyone involved in the food systems we rely on.
3. New voices
In order to create a broad-based, democratic and lasting transition to a low-carbon sustainable society, we need to involve everyone. JRCT is particularly concerned that marginalised groups and young activists have a voice in decisions which affect them.
We will fund:
- campaigns and movements that give marginalised or under-represented groups a voice on issues of environmental and economic justice
- initiatives that encourage organisations from outside the traditional environmental field to get involved in environmental justice
- networks that link and support local environmental justice groups
- the replication of innovative local projects to involve New Voices regionally or nationally.
Recent projects funded under this strand:
- Coal Action Network provide advocacy and support for campaigners living in areas of proposed or existing open-cast coal mining.
- Interclimate Trust engages young people with the challenges of climate change and promotes their voices in imagining and developing their own sustainable future.
4. Responding to the dual harms of Covid-19 and systemic racism
At this time of crisis, JRCT is keen to support work that responds to the dual harms of the Covid-19 pandemic and systemic racism. Specifically, we wish to encourage work that scrutinises the responses and policies of powerful institutions and actors, and which envisions and builds support for transformative social change based on justice, peace and sustainability, including work which:
- Scrutinises economic responses to the pandemic through a climate justice lens, holding government to account for their policy decisions, including any corporate financial support.
- Helps to build collective power and foster visions for more imaginative, just economies which prioritise the wellbeing of human beings and the natural world.
- Explores the connections between the pandemic and the lived experiences of environmental racism and set out methods of addressing these harms.
Click here for a full list of projects recently funded under the Sustainable Future programme.
JRCT recognises that the issues are worldwide. However, this programme has a UK focus, to take advantage of the body of thought and expertise that already exists here, and in recognition of the UK’s influential global role in maintaining current financial and market systems.
In addition to the Trust’s general exclusions, JRCT will not fund:
- Conservation projects.
- Anti-consumerism campaigns which simply exhort people to be less consumerist, rather than encourage behaviour change resulting in sustainable living.
- Measures that are limited to adapting to the effects of climate change rather than leading to long-term change.
- Academic research and books, except as an integral part of policy, campaigning work or leading to practical change in enterprises or community action.
- Local or national work anywhere outside the UK except for the specific circumstances outlined in section three.
- Beyond Consumerism: we understand the problem of consumerism to relate to the links between extracting raw materials from the earth, producing goods using these materials and using advertising to compel or persuade people to consume these. We see the solution to this as a transformation in human behaviour and the structures which shape it. We do not believe that changing patterns of consumption or encouraging people to be ‘better’ consumers will produce the change we need.
- Local work: in order to ensure our grants have the greatest impact possible, we tend to avoid solely local work. By this we mean, work with a single council or in a single town. We do see merit in work which begins at a local level, covering multiple local areas, and which can produce lessons which can be applied regionally or nationally.
- Programme demand: unsurprisingly, the Sustainable Future programme has been the most popular at the Trust for the past 24 months. We anticipate that this will continue. We have a limited amount of funding which we can award. In order to allow potential applicants to make the best use of their time, we strongly encourage you to read our programmatic aims and exclusions, and to review the work which we currently fund. We are particularly interested in work which addresses root causes. If you are unsure about whether or not your idea would meet our policy aims, please contact grant staff before submitting an application.
For further information see When to apply.