The mission of KR Foundation is
to address the root causes of climate change
and environmental degradation.
ENERGY FOR A PEACEFUL AND PROSPEROUS WORLD
2022 was another eventful year for climate philanthropy and for the organisations supported by KR Foundation in our mission to address the root causes of climate change.
On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. The humanitarian consequences have been devastating, and the implications of the war reach far beyond Ukraine’s borders. The invasion ignited an interconnected energy, food, and economic crisis that will affect the premises for climate action across the globe for years to come, including for many of the organisations supported by KR Foundation.
The crisis has exposed how important the renewable energy transition is to security and economic stability. Making energy reliable, renewable, and affordable is an absolute necessity for shaping a peaceful and prosperous world. Had it not been for already-installed renewable energy capacities and the increasing focus on energy efficiency, Europe would have found itself in a much more challenging situation.
However, there is a still a long way to go, especially when it comes to Europe’s dependency on gas: In 2012, the EU imported approx. 40 pct. of its gas from Russia. In 2022, just prior to the invasion, that number had not changed. Between the invasion in February 2022 and December 2022 when this report went to press, EU Member States have spent EUR 123bn importing Russian fossil fuels. This does not only cost Member States, companies, and citizens vast sums of money, it also helps finance the Russian war efforts. On the positive side, it has created an unprecedented support for a rapid renewable energy transition in many European countries because the acceleration of this transition is seen as a key solution for national security, the climate challenge, and the cost-of-living crisis.
These are, indeed, crucial times for institutions and governments across the world, and KR Foundation grantees are working hard to make sure that the decisions currently being made are aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement – making the promotion of clean energy and the prevention of a long-term gas lock-in absolute top priorities.
KR Foundation is now building a workstream to counteract the influence the fossil fuel industry exerts through PR, advertising, and lobbying. This work will continue in 2023 as our grantees seek to limit and respond to greenwashing and misinformation campaigns. There is momentum in this area: More than 400 advertising agencies have pledged not to work for the fossil fuel industry; the number of climate-change-related legal cases in 2022 has more than doubled since 2015; and big tech platforms are finally beginning to curtail misleading content and advertising. This means that companies and countries with lofty climate targets and net zero pledges that are not directly backed by ambitious action will experience a significant backlash – a backlash that will impair both reputations and finances.
Despite the dire and tragic events that have occurred over the past year, progress is being made, but there is still a very long way to go if we are serious about limiting the devastating consequences of climate change. Emissions are still rising, and there is an urgent need for a renewable response to the current energy crisis.
Please join us in the effort to push for more ambitious action, now.
Ending Fossil Fuel Finance
To limit the warming of the planet to 1.5 degrees Celsius, global emissions must be cut by 43 pct. by 2030. Fossil CO2 emissions represent the bulk of total global emissions, accounting for approximately 91 pct of emissions in 2025.
To avert dangerous climate change, most fossil fuels must therefore be kept in the ground. Yet, the existing financial system keeps driving and supporting the production and consumption of fossil fuels at levels wholly incompatible with the Paris Agreement. The world’s 60 largest banks have invested more than USD 4.6tr in fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, while global development banks (MDBs) and G20 countries still provide at least USD 55bn per year in international public finance for oil, gas, and coal.
KR Foundation’s Sustainable Finance Programme Area supports interventions that aim to shift both public and private financial incentives and means (such as investments, subsidies, taxes, regulation, etc.) away from fossil fuel production and consumption and onto a pathway compatible with the Paris Agreement.
The grantees in Sustainable Finance Programme Area have two overall aims:
- Coal: Public and private financial actors adopt policies that lead to a phase-out of coal-fired power plants while avoiding gas-fired power plants as replacement.
Oil and gas: Phasing out investments in oil and gas production.
“No one should imagine that Russia’s invasion can justify a wave of new oil and gas infrastructure in a world that wants to reach net zero emissions by 2050”
The International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2022
Supporting The Growing Movement Seeking to Transform The Advertising and PR Industry
The climate crisis presents itself as one of the most daunting challenges mankind has ever faced. Although this has been known for decades, and despite a growing consensus on the science and on policy solutions needed to mitigate climate change, the efforts to address the crisis have so far been inadequate. This can in part be explained by the purposeful obstruction of climate action by large greenhouse gas emitters and their sophisticated use of influencing tactics (such as lobbying, misleading PR campaigns, and greenwashing).
For instance, in the three years following the Paris Agreement, the five largest publicly-traded oil and gas majors (ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP, and TotalEnergies) invested over USD 1bn of shareholder funds on misleading climate-related branding and lobbying. A recent analysis shows that these companies are now spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to portray themselves as positive and proactive on the climate change emergency, while this is found to be inconsistent with actual investments in renewable energy.
KR Foundation’s Sustainable Behaviour Programme Area seeks to support the growing movement of civil society organisations aiming to counter these influencing tactics (such as enforcing greenwash legislation, raising standards in the PR and advertising industry, etc.).
The grantees in the Sustainable Behaviour Programme Area work towards two overall aims:
- Media platforms, PR and advertising agencies, and other service industries adopt industry standards on fossil fuels and high carbon clients.
- Policy makers from the local to the global level adopt new policy frameworks and guidelines on fossil fuel and high carbon advertising, promotion, and sponsorship.
”We need to hold fossil fuels and their enablers to account. This includes the massive PR machine raking in billions to shield the fossil fuel industry from scrutiny”
Supporting Ambitious Climate Action
In 2020, the Danish government, supported broadly by the Parliament, businesses, civil society, and citizens, adopted an ambition to reduce GHG emissions by 70 pct. by 2030 - one of the most ambitious climate goals in the world. In 2021, VILLUM FONDEN, VELUX FONDEN and KR Foundation launched a DKK 320m project to help achieve the 70 pct. reduction target. The project, aptly named “70by30”, is designed to support the realisation of the reduction target and aims to enable informed decision making on climate change mitigation at all levels of society. It aims to do so on a national scale for global inspiration and replication.
The project is implemented in a partnership with the green think tank CONCITO, the social enterprise DeltagerDanmark, Aalborg University, and the European Climate Foundation. In addition to this, KR Foundation manages a pool of funds that supports Danish civil society in their efforts to drive ambitious climate action. This year all the partners and grantees have collaborated to increase civic awareness and participation, inform policy, and elevate the level of public debate on climate change mitigation.
The five initiatives
- Getting the data right:
Getting the data right: New global datasets and independent insights will be developed as basis for the ‘next generation whole-of-economy’ and full value chain-centred climate policies as they must unfold over this decade.
- Knowledge in action:
A markedly enhanced effort in deepening knowledge and developing appropriate policies will help ignite critical and timely action in critical sectors through new knowledge and co-creation with key stakeholders in society.
- Effective climate communication:
A tailored climate communication and engagement effort built based on the new data and knowledge will engage the best global expertise in developing and applying new approaches to messaging and communication in a Danish and Nordic context.
- Boosting climate education:
New teaching materials and teaching processes will help create a new generation of climate competent youth that will be decisive for lasting impact in every corner of society, driving new demands, behaviours and lifestyles.
- Involving for climate impact:
The transition will require a population that is receptive to disruptive change. The ability to engage the society at large will benefit from new and science-based methods of involving and engaging citizens at large.
Improved climate politics
Throughout 2022, the 70by30 partners collaborated closely in promoting ambitious climate action that contributes to the realization of the Danish climate goal.
In June 2022, a green tax reform was agreed upon in the Danish parliament, with a broad political coalition behind it. The reform implements a tax on CO2 emissions from industrial production and is a vital part of the roadmap to reaching the Danish goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 70 pct. The 70by30 partners have continuously provided decision makers with analyses on science-based pathways and policies to help inform the content of this reform. This has been accompanied by frequent polling on the public’s thoughts about climate change and various climate policies, which has provided politicians with an incentive to act.
A new focus on consumption-driven CO2 emissions
Traditionally, consumption-driven CO2 emissions is an area that has received very little attention in Danish climate policy, both on a national and a local level. The 70by30 partners have worked to raise the bar on this topic. A key pillar in this work in 2022 was the publication of the white paper “Omstilling på vippen” (Green transition on the verge), which describes best practice examples on consumption, behaviour, and civil society participation in the green transition. This was developed in close collaboration with the Danish Ministry for Climate, Energy and Utilities.
Using the law to prevent greenwashing
Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about making environmentally-friendly decisions - giving companies a strong financial incentive to be (or just to appear to be) sustainable and socially conscious. While ‘green’ advertising and PR strategies have picked up pace, most major polluters have not significantly altered their core products and services in response to the climate crisis, creating a large discrepancy between high-spirited declarations about sustainable products and services and real action to reduce emissions. This has created a surge in greenwashing among some of the top polluting companies in the world.
ClientEarth is using the power of law to challenge greenwashing, so that corporate advertising does not mislead the public or investors about a company’s impact on the environment. It does this by combining direct legal interventions (e.g., targeted litigation against companies responsible for greenwashing) with strategic communications, advocacy, and campaigns that explain greenwashing to the public and stakeholders. With support from KR Foundation, ClientEarth will carry out this work in a number of countries over the next two years.
- To support enforcement against misleading and deceptive communication.
- To engage in sustained, high-profile strategic communication campaigns to raise awareness about important legal cases involving greenwashing.
- To use legal interventions to advocate for greater ambition and scrutiny among key stakeholders in the investor community.
- To engage with advertising industry actors from agencies to media owners to challenge the ways these businesses amplify misleading and non-compliant narratives.
Fighting to ban fossil fuel advertising in Australia
Misleading advertising and greenwashing are widespread in Australia, a country that contributes vastly to global climate change relative to its population. It is one of the top exporters of LNG and coal in the world, and its per capita emissions are the highest in the OECD, undermining international efforts to reduce fossil fuel use. To protect vested interests and maintain the status quo, the AUD 202bn fossil fuel industry spends large sums to spread misinformation and is routinely engaged in corporate greenwashing.
To curb the influence of the fossil fuel industry, the organisation Comms Declare has set out to have fossil fuel ads banned in Australia. Starting with local councils and expanding to state and national levels, the campaign will agitate
for legislative curbs on the advertising and sponsorship of high-carbon products and fossil fuel companies. To achieve this, they have launched a massive public campaign that aims to expose the negative impacts of fossil fuel advertising and mobilise large parts of the public to put pressure on politicians.
This is the first time that KR Foundation has provided support to Comms Declare.
The project’s key objectives are
- Enforcement of national and subnational restrictions on fossil fuel advertising.
- Secure legislation to mandate ‘climate warning’ labels on carbon-intensive goods and services.
- Recruit trusted voices (health professionals, scientists, lawmakers) to lend support to the argument that fossil fuels are dangerous to health and wellbeing - just like tobacco.
Warm This Winter - a campaign for clean, affordable energy
We are at an historic inflection point for fossil fuels. On one hand, Russia’s war in Ukraine has emboldened the oil and gas industry and its supporters to lobby for increased production and accelerate new extraction. On the other hand, the soaring price of gas, which is projected to stay exceptionally high until at least 2025, has driven inflation to new levels across Europe and created an energy crisis in the UK (and beyond), exposing the deep vulnerability associated with the dependency on gas. While the fossil fuel companies are reporting record profits, most people are faced with a huge hike in their cost of living, which has also generated public backlash against the industry in many countries.
The UK-based organisation Uplift aims to use this crucial moment to push for a rapid phase-out of oil and gas production and a surge in renewable energy in the UK. Through its campaigns and research, including the Warm This Winter campaign, Uplift would like to create a vocal and diverse coalition of civil society actors (NGOs, grassroots groups, academics and other experts, and well-respected public figures) to call for a transformation of the UK’s energy system, including a swift transition away from oil and gas. This will also include anti-poverty groups, oil and gas workers, trade unions, and communities that are close to the industry – parties that can constructively engage in conversations with key politicians and industry leaders.
The project’s key objectives are
- To stop the expansion of oil and gas production in the UK, including new fields and new licenses.
- A commitment to end existing production by a date that is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals and the international principle of equity.
- A political commitment in the UK to a process for a just transition for workers and their communities.