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Climate emergency

The world is facing the serious, urgent threat of climate breakdown.

Civil society is not moving as quickly as other sectors in responding to a genuine and significant threat to achieving its missions. We must act now and show ambitious and bold leadership, to ensure our sector contributes actively towards the global transition to net zero emissions.

Civil society seeks a safer and fairer world. To achieve any kind of social justice, we must urgently centre climate justice in our work too. We collectively have a responsibility to the future generations and our current work as a sector should not be carried out in ways that threaten the future of our planet. Without taking crucial and significant action, our world will simply not be safe or accessible in future years. Civil society has a role to play to make sure that the global transition to net zero is just, and that it does not cause further harm to the communities or places we work with.

ACEVO's climate work is based on the themes below (Content under construction)

Make My Money Matter: call on all UK pension funds to put people and planet on a par with profit when investing our pensions, including by committing to Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Fuelling Positive Change: NCVO’s Fuelling Positive Change calls on charities to consider moving investments away from businesses involved in the extraction, production, transportation, refining and marketing of fossil fuels. Examples of these are coal, tar sands, oil and gas.

Climate Reframe: amplifying BAME voices in the UK environmental movement.

Framing Climate Justice: a 12-month project bringing together organisers from across the climate movement to tell the stories that matter, and strengthen our movement in the fight for justice.

The Climate Coalition: bringing together the UK’s big-name NGOs towards four big public engagement moments in 2021.

Hope for the Future: a climate charity which works to equip communities, groups and individuals across the country to communicate the urgency of climate change with their local politicians.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland: bringing together civil society in Scotland to call for urgent action from Scottish Government and for them to champion climate justice.

Climate Cymru: a coalition of 15 influential organisations based in Wales, who work together to mobilise our supporters and others across Wales to bring about changes to help tackle climate change.

Just Transition: a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes, and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. 

She Changes Climate: A campaign calling for at least a 50% representation of women, in all their diversity, at the top levels of all future climate delegations. 

People’s Plan for Nature: the People’s Plan for Nature aims to give people from all walks of life across the UK a voice in co-creating a vision for the future of UK nature.

Everyone’s Environment Programme: NPC is working with over 40 social and environmental charities to empower people from the UK’s diverse social groups to have a say on how we confront the climate and nature crises. 

Hold This Space: a digital tool which helps users process difficult emotions, imagine a better future, and learn more about the impact of collective climate action. Designed for young adults who are most at risk of eco-anxiety and other mental health impacts of climate change, the self-guided journey aims to restore hope, agency and ambition towards a sustainable future.

Find out more about what we have been doing at ACEVO and how you can get involved:

ACEVO announced an internal climate emergency in 2019. We help civil society leaders have the greatest possible impact, but we need to find ways of doing that without adversely impacting our natural world.

This webpage will be regularly updated with our member offers and internal practices through a climate-conscious lens. 

Our values and strapline drive our actions.

This plan is driven by our values:

  • Member-driven: we are proactive and responsive to what members tell us that they need. Our members have told us the climate crisis is important to them, so we will support them to change the sector for the better. 
  • Connected: our network is our power. A connected community of like-minded people can support and encourage one another to take action as part of a bigger movement and achieve greater change. 
  • Ambitious: we are bold in our response to difficult issues. The climate crisis is scary but waiting for others to act is not ambitious. Together, we can take big steps to make a meaningful difference. 
  • Honest: the climate crisis is real, and it is advancing fast. Being honest about the severity of the situation is part of making progress, but sharing our mistakes, successes and learning along the way will help the sector to develop. 
  • Inclusive: climate action becomes inclusive by embracing just transition and engaging a wide range of stakeholders, designing policies that are fair and accessible, and equitably distributing policy impacts.

Civil society leaders:

  • Imagine: civil society leaders imagine a better world for the people they support. We want the sector to imagine that world without the threat of climate breakdown and reflect that goal in their services.
  • Inspire: our dynamic network can inspire people to see themselves as changemakers, both within organisations and within communities. We want to connect system shapers to drive that change.
  • Improve: good leaders learn. We know this is a journey, and we don’t have all the answers, so we are committed to sharing everything we learn – from immediate changes to reduce our carbon emissions, to the challenging issues of funding and partnerships.

ACEVO’s internal work


ACEVO has developed a hybrid way of working, with freedom for team members to choose whether to work from home or in our new office in Aldgate. This model has meant that we now only print for essential legal and financial needs, and the new office space has good provision for recycling. We are aware that with some of the team working remotely, the implications of heating homes and using electricity have not been fully measured. As we begin working in an office again, team members are also travelling more, increasing our outputs. We are seeking support from consultants to accurately assess our carbon footprint in early 2022, and will share more detailed targets and progress against them when this process is complete. We formed some environmental working from home tips which we regularly remind staff about.


ACEVO continues to offset one tonne of carbon per month via the Gold Standard Community Projects. However, we are aware that we need a more accurate measure of our footprint as well as reduction plans in place to ensure this figure is appropriate and that we are also changing our behaviours.


ACEVO is slowly transitioning back to face to face events following the Covid-19 pandemic. When we do so, we are determined to stick to our pre-pandemic goals of stopping printing agendas and delegate lists and trialling meat-free menus at events where food is provided. As part of our carbon footprint measurement, we intend to assess our digital carbon footprint, so that moving forward we can understand the implications of hybrid event delivery if some delegates will be travelling and some will not.

In November 2020, ACEVO formed the first member working group on the climate crisis. The purpose of the group is to inform and steer ACEVO’s work in this space, advising on key decisions made by ACEVO staff and trustees concerning the outputs and offers we provide to our members. The working group will contribute ideas and act as a sounding board to proposals made by ACEVO, as well as help to elevate the issue of sustainability across the sector through their individual networks. Scroll down to read the terms of reference. 

In January 2023, a new cohort came together. 

The members of the working group are: 

Terms of reference


ACEVO outlined our internal environmental commitments in 2019. The purpose of the member working group is to inform and steer ACEVO’s external-facing work in relation to sustainability and the climate crisis. The working group will advise the climate justice staff group on the outputs and offers provided to ACEVO’s membership. This will include developing new priority areas, such as toolkits, training, events and communications. The working group will contribute ideas and act as a sounding board to proposals made by ACEVO, as well as help to elevate the issue of sustainability across the sector through their individual networks.


The working group will be made up of civil society leaders from ACEVO’s membership. It will include individuals leading organisations with an environmental focus, and organisations who work in other cause areas. The group will also include small, large, national and local organisations. By including leaders from a variety of organisations, we hope the working group will be representative of the variety of organisations across the sector as well as their varied progress on this issue. This will help ACEVO to design member offers that appeal and support across a spectrum of experience and understanding of the climate crisis.

The working group will be selected through a simple recruitment process, which will involve:

  • A call for expressions of interest circulated via ACEVO’s Leader to Leader newsletter, asking members to submit an expression of interest to join the group of no more than one A4 side. This should include:
    • The organisation’s focus and mission, including any specific environmental focus
    • What the individual hopes to contribute and learn through membership of the group
    • Visions of change for the sector more broadly or their organisation, and how they would like to see civil society take a bolder position in this space.
  • Expressions of interest will be considered by ACEVO staff. The group will be selected to ensure a balance of organisational size and focus, a diversity of experience and backgrounds, and the answers submitted in the expression of interest.

The group will consist of no more than 10 members, plus ACEVO staff. ACEVO will ask members to commit to the group for two years, after which time they may be asked to step down so that others can participate and contribute. This is to ensure new ACEVO members have an opportunity to join the group, and to ensure that the group continues to include a diversity of people and perspectives.


Working group members will be asked to:

  • Advise on ACEVO’s approach to provide support on sustainability and climate crisis for civil society leaders, including events, training and other products that the sector needs;
  • Engage with colleagues within their individual networks about what they need, and bring their views to working group meetings;
  • Promote the work of climate justice programmes, organisations and activists through their links across the sector, acting as ambassadors for strengthening the links between civil society’s social justice focus and climate justice;
  • Take part in quarterly meetings of 90 minutes maximum to discuss progress on agreed outputs and potential new ACEVO projects;
  • Help develop a pledge or commitment for civil society organisations, and subsequently sign up to the pledge and encourage others to do so;
  • Commit to publicly sharing your organisation’s progress on the issue, your learning from membership of the working group, and encouraging others to share their journey to encourage peer support amongst civil society leaders.


To avoid creating significant additional carbon emissions and ensure members from across the country can be represented, the working group will only engage digitally via conference calls and video calls. This commitment has been made by ACEVO for the majority of events concerning climate and sustainability, to keep carbon emissions low and ensure accessibility to joining the group. ACEVO will consult with the group on the best platform to use for these meetings.

The group will meet once per quarter (4 times per year). When the group is selected, all of these dates will be booked in advance.


The working group will receive secretariat support from ACEVO’s policy team and climate crisis staff working group. The working group will be chaired by ACEVO staff for the first year, with the potential for member chairing or co-chairing when it is fully established.

ACEVO is a member of CAFA.

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Not an ACEVO member?

If you have any queries please email or call 020 7014 4600.

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