As global temperatures continue to rise to unprecedented levels, and natural disasters become more frequent and destructive, funding for organizations working to confront the climate emergency has remained stagnant.

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A recent study from ClimateWorks has shown that climate change mitigation accounts for less than 2% of global philanthropic funding – an estimated $7.5 billion to $12.5 billion compared to total philanthropic giving of $810 billion.

To put this into perspective, recent Global Witness analysis shows major oil giant Shell alone made more than £31bn in excess profits over the last year – three times the amount of all philanthropic giving to climate-focused organisations worldwide. While it’s encouraging that climate-related funding has increased compared to last year, the scale of giving still does not match the urgency of the problem.

The climate crisis poses an existential threat to all life on earth and underpins many other philanthropic issues. Food security, health and nutrition, and animal welfare are all at risk from a warming climate. Democracy, human rights, and freedom of movement will come under threat as climate refugee flows trigger authoritarian crackdowns and resource hoarding.

Poverty alleviation, economic mobility, and youth development may be far more difficult to address if we don’t invest in a sustainable future while we still can. The list goes on. Whatever the issue, the climate crisis threatens to hinder or altogether halt progress in that area.

So far, world governments have not proven decisive or ambitious enough to solve the problem. Meanwhile, financial institutions and exploitative corporations have spent billions to ensure meaningful climate action does not interfere with their financial gains. It falls now to civil society and advocates to do the hard work make sure that climate change is not seen as unsolvable.

Tackling the climate emergency is our guiding principle at Global Witness, and we see our role within the broader climate movement to be:

  • Alerting the public and decisionmakers to the interconnections between climate change, human rights, natural resource extraction, and financial systems
  • Investigating the false solutions and exposing the undue influence of the fossil fuel industry
  • Raising the voices and protecting the rights of land and environmental defenders at the frontlines of the climate crisis
  • Campaigning for change on a global scale to combat this global emergency

We know that while the climate crisis is a daunting challenge, we can make a difference and build a stronger and more sustainable world – but we need the financial support to get it done.

Global Witness is thankful to all our donors who are part of the movement to stand up for climate justice and action. The climate crisis needs to be a leading philanthropic issue if we are to mitigate its worst impacts. Investing in climate action now is the best way to prevent a whole range of other issues getting worse in the years to come. This is the time for an all-out, full-throttle approach to solving the climate emergency.

Please support Global Witness by making a year-end donation to our Christmas Challenge campaign. Donations made through December 6 will be doubled by The Big Give and our generous pledgers. Thank you for standing with us!

Climate action


  • Tyler Wiseman

    Development Coordinator
  • Aditi Thorat

    Director of Development