Climate Action Fund FAQ

What is the Climate Action Fund?

Climate Action Fund (CAF) supports frontline community organizations and activists who are working to keep fossil fuels in the ground. We believe that supporting frontline communities to directly challenge the fossil fuel industry is, dollar for dollar, more effective in fighting climate change than carbon offsets.

Why is it important to help frontline community activists?

Frontline communities face the most adverse health, social and environmental consequences of fossil fuel projects because they are situated closest to mines, power plants and other industrial infrastructure. By standing up to industries and corporations, these communities are protecting their lives and livelihoods. However, even though they are on the frontlines of efforts to stop the largest, dirtiest, and most carbon intensive industries, many of these groups are volunteer-based and have very few resources.

What’s wrong with carbon offsets?

Carbon offsets do not effectively reduce emissions because of the lack of regulation in the carbon market. Experience with existing offsets programs shows that defining “avoided emissions” is inherently problematic, and often prone to cheating. The truth is that the attempt to ‘buy’ our way out of climate change has created a corrupt system with little accountability that usually fails to reduce emissions.

Studies by Stanford University scientists found that up to 2/3 of offsets in international markets are not in fact delivering any additional reduction in emissions compared to business as usual. The Christian Science Monitor and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting estimates that of the $700 million dollars invested in carbon offsets around the world, offset buyers: “… are often buying vague promises instead of the reductions in greenhouse gases they expect. They are buying into projects that are never completed, or paying for ones that would have been done anyhow, the investigation found. Their purchases are feeding middlemen and promoters seeking profits from green schemes that range from selling protection for existing trees to the promise of planting new ones that never thrive. In some cases, the offsets have consequences that their purchasers never foresaw, such as erecting windmills that force poor people off their farms. Carbon offsets are the environmental equivalent of financial derivatives: complex, unregulated, unchecked and – in many cases – not worth their price.”

RAN does not endorse any offset program nor are we claiming that there are no legitimate programs. We believe that voluntary carbon offsets are not the only or the best way to address climate change.

How are the bronze, silver and gold contribution levels established?

RAN began the Climate Action Fund to take a fundamentally different approach to the flawed carbon offsets model. Starting with our own organization, we calculate the annual carbon emissions associated with our operations, including travel. We then apply an internal price – effectively a fee – on our carbon footprint based on the following predetermined levels: Bronze is equivalent to the price set by low-end carbon offset schemes, $5 per ton of CO2; Silver is equivalent to the price set by mid-level carbon offset schemes, $25 per ton; Gold is based on the determination by former World Bank Chief Economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, that each ton of CO2 we emit causes $85 in social and environmental damages. After years of careful tracking, RAN estimated that each of our staff members is responsible for an average of 5 tons of CO2 per year for their work-related activities, which has been established as RAN’s baseline emissions. You can support CAF using the RAN baseline or the mileage calculator for travel located on our donation page, and then selecting your contribution level at Bronze, Silver or Gold. Organizations can also contribute to CAF using the 5 tons of CO2 per year baseline for each individual or by plugging in cumulative miles using our calculator.

In what countries does the climate action fund work?

Climate Action Fund supports projects all over the world, wherever frontline communities are fighting to keep fossil fuels underground. The majority of CAF projects to date have been in North and South America, supporting communities and organizations working on a number of fronts, including fighting to stop mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, tar sands extraction and transportation in the U.S. and Canada and oil extraction on Indigenous traditional territory in the Amazon. We discourage donors from restricting donations to specific regions or countries so that RAN can be most responsive to funding the most urgent and strategic projects.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Donors receive a formal donation acknowledgement letter with RAN’s tax ID number and an attractive certificate of recognition thanking you for your contribution to our program and for your help supporting community activism against the fossil fuel industry, which is the most direct and effective strategy for securing just and meaningful action on climate change

How much of my donation will reach these groups?

A minimum of 90% of your CAF donation goes directly to supporting projects via our RAN Community Action Grants program. CAF grants are frequently small in nature due to the small size of the organizations funded, and they are frequently distributed to remote parts of the globe where financial transfer infrastructure is lacking. As a result some processing fees are unavoidable, however RAN is committed to making these as minimal as possible.