Leadership and career development

Eight out of 10 charities have not committed to net zero

Following on from COP26, the charity sector must take the lead to reduce emissions, says CFG.

The charity sector must do more to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change, says Charity Finance Group (CFG) following the results of a recent survey.

Eight in 10 charities (84%) surveyed by CFG in October said that they do not yet have a net zero objective and only 14% said they currently report on their carbon emissions.

However, more than one third of charities (37%) have had discussions with their trustees about net zero and climate change.

Those conversations were prompted by perceptions of risk, expectations from funders and the desire to operate more sustainably.

When asked about the challenges of moving towards net zero, respondents cited the following:

  • Difficulty understanding the practical changes that could be made
  • The cost of changes, particularly when it comes to property
  • Linking a net zero strategy to charitable objectives
  • Communicating the need for a net zero strategy to stakeholders, in particular funders and beneficiaries
  • Accessibility of relevant case studies and best practice examples

Richard Sagar, Acting Head of Policy at CFG, comments:

“Climate change and its effects are inextricably linked to global social justice, poverty and health. The charity sector understands this all too well and is keen to know how it can help to reduce its carbon emissions.

““Many charities are already taking bold steps to become more sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint. However, many more are only just getting started on the net zero journey.

"What comes across loud and clear from our snapshot survey and through conversations with our members is that much more support needs to be provided to the sector, from infrastructure bodies like ours, government, the regulator and the for-profit sector.

"Guidance is needed in areas such as emissions reporting, investment, pensions and procurement. We must be transparent and accountable in order to play our part.

“Although our sector’s emissions pale in comparison to that of many others, such as energy and agriculture, there is still much we can do to reduce our impact and respond to the climate emergency. Moving towards net zero is not just good sense, but an urgent moral imperative that the sector can and must lead on.”

In early 2022, CFG will publish a guide to net zero, sponsored by PwC and charity fund managers CCLA. The guide will set out the size of the challenge and provide practical advice for charities and social change organisations on how to move towards net zero in 2022 and beyond.

Daniel Chan, charities director at PwC, says:

“In the wake of COP26, many organisations of all sizes, across all sectors, have either stepped up their commitment to climate change targets or embarked on their journey to net zero.

“Combating climate change is a responsibility which we must tackle together across every sector and charities have a significant role to play. Environmental charities have undoubtedly been leading the charge, but it is important for the sector as a whole to play its part.

“At PwC, we are pleased to be co-sponsoring this CFG publication, which we hope will contribute towards supporting charities to step up and accelerate their efforts to achieve a socially just net zero future.”


Survey methodology

CFG members were invited in October to respond to a short survey on net zero. Fifty-seven responses were gathered from charities and social change organisations ranging in size by annual income from under £250k to up to £100m. The majority of respondents were medium-sized charities with an annual income of £1-£10m.


For more information, email:

Richard Sagar, Acting Head of Policy, CFG:

Emma Abbott, Communications Manager, CFG:

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