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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The next deadline for applications to the Sustainable Future programme is 31 August 2021. Please note that we have split deadlines for our programmes – for further information see When to apply.