Climate change

Climate change affects all aspects of our environment and our humanity. There is an urgent need to rapidly scale up action.


Climate change is already having a significant impact on our world.

The environment, communities and the economy are reeling from the impact of the warming planet, extreme weather events and rising sea levels. Tragically, the impacts are often most severe for the most disadvantaged.

Australia’s environment and our population are particularly susceptible to the impact of climate change due to the large expanses of arid and semi-arid areas, water supply pressures, our unique biodiversity and the concentration of the population in coastal areas. Australia is already experiencing the impact of a warmer climate.

Australia is a signatory to the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Scientists agree that the window of opportunity for keeping global warming below 1.5 or 2°C is closing rapidly.

Despite the Federal Government pledge under the Paris Agreement, there is strong evidence that the climate change mitigation actions being taken by Australia are not sufficient to meet our fair share of global emissions reductions.

We have been pushing our planet to the brink and the damage is becoming increasingly clear.

Biodiversity is being lost at mass-extinction rates, agricultural systems are under strain and pollution of the air and sea has become an increasingly pressing threat to human health. A trend towards nation-state unilateralism may make it more difficult to sustain the long-term, multilateral responses that are required to counter global warming and the degradation of the global environment.

The World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2018

Many Australian local and state governments, communities, business leaders and investors are taking matters into their own hands to address climate change. The mitigation and adaptation action being taken shows enormous potential. There are substantial economic gains to be made if corporations and governments seize opportunities to drive the transition to a just and sustainable zero carbon economy.

Encouragingly, opinion polls and research shows most Australians want to see strong action on climate change and are excited by the economic prospects of shifting to clean, renewable energy.

There are many opportunities for philanthropists to lead or join co-ordinated and decisive action to address climate change and accelerate implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement commitments.

AEGN philanthropy briefing: climate change

The AEGN’s climate change briefing (pdf) will help you understand the complex scientific and policy landscape around climate change. Written by Professor John Wiseman from the University of Melbourne, it draws on the 2016 State of the Environment (SOE) report and other research to explain climate change impacts and what must be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Please note, the 2021 SOE report has since been released providing updated data — read the report’s climate chapter and watch the chapter briefing for more information.

What the science tells us

Scientific and experiential evidence of the accelerating risks of climate change trends and impacts is powerful and compelling. Climate change is impacting the world today and, without stronger efforts to curb emissions, more damaging impacts are predicted.

Find out the facts, how climate change will affect Australia, acting on climate change and attitudes to responsibility for climate action.

What philanthropy can do

Philanthropists in Australia and around the world are leading and supporting efforts towards a prosperous and sustainable post-fossil fuel world. Indeed, philanthropy is really making a difference.

Foundations of all different types – from health, to education, to social disadvantage – can maximise co-benefits by applying a ‘climate lens’ to their grantmaking.

While the problem can sometimes seem overwhelming, we can turn things around – but we must move beyond climate talk to climate action.

Ted Turner

We can help you explore this strategic approach. All trusts and foundations are welcome to participate in our climate change funder group and access the extraordinary skills and knowledge of other experienced philanthropists. Participating in the funder group will enable you to identify co-funding opportunities. Foundations can also unlock the power of the market through participation in the international philanthropic divestment and investment movement.

DivestInvest will help you understand the steps philanthropists can take. We can also put you in touch with the international campaign. As the science shows, the window of opportunity for keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius is closing. There is no better time than now to take action.

Climate Change Funding Framework

Solving the climate crisis — Opportunities for strategic philanthropy in Australia. Transforming Australia into a global leader on climate action through the power of philanthropy.

The framework consists of 25 framework areas (grouped into five clusters). Each details strategies and work areas already underway, and in some cases, specific opportunities, and gaps to fill.

You can access a list of organisations and initiatives associated with each of the 25 framework areas.

Non-members can access a public page and request a brief on the Climate Change Funding Framework.

Climate lens

A climate lens explores the relationship between your philanthropic interests and climate change
By using a climate lens, you’ll see how climate change impacts upon your purpose area and ultimately the effectiveness of your grantmaking. Armed with this understanding, the impact of your philanthropy will continue to grow.

Find out how your foundation can enhance its impact using a “climate lens”, and read case studies on foundations already applying a climate lens.

Climate change funder group

This group is turning Australia from a laggard to a leader on climate action.