Help support nature and tackle climate change with this guide to the best UK environmental charities to support in 2023.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the world’s official body for the assessment of climate change – recently released its synthesis report. This wraps up seven years of in-depth assessments on climate change. From the causes and drivers to impacts and solutions, hundreds of expert authors have been involved in putting together the most accurate and comprehensive picture of climate change we have.
The consensus? Humans are unequivocally increasing greenhouse gas emissions to record levels. This has driven and will drive widespread and rapid global changes.
It’s quite sobering reading. However, the IPCC report is clear on another important message. It’s not too late to act.
The IPCC says policies, laws, technologies and measures implemented all over the world are reducing emissions by several billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, compared to what would otherwise be the case.
The report also makes it clear that global emissions could be cut even deeper if existing policy instruments were scaled up and applied broadly.
As citizens, it can feel like we have no power to call for policy changes that would support action on emissions. But there are ways we can help to take meaningful action on climate change.
One main way is to support an environmental charity taking climate action.
In the UK alone, there are heaps of environmental charities, all taking action on climate change and environmental degradation. Many of these charities use the power of collective voices to campaign and lobby the government for pro-environmental and pro-climate policies. Where one voice may not be effective, charities can use the voices of their members to demand climate action. This can be difficult for those in power to ignore.
But where to start?
To help you out, I’ve put together a guide to some of the best environmental charities in the UK. These are all making a difference when it comes to protecting the planet and fighting climate change.
15+ UK Environmental Charities To Support
These environmental charities are all taking critical action on the environment and/or climate change.
Use the quick links below to navigate to information about each charity, or keep scrolling for the full post.
Remember that there are different ways to support your favourite charities. You can support a charity by donating money to help it continue its important work. Or you can provide support by volunteering your time and skills. Alternatively, you can lend your support to policy campaigns, or simply share campaigns on social media to raise awareness among as many people as possible. I’ve also popped some more ideas at the end of the post.
The Climate Coalition
As an environmental charity, The Climate Coalition is the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action against climate change.
As an alliance of over 100 member organisations – including the National Trust, the Women’s Institute and Oxfam – The Climate Coalition creates a strong and unified voice that politicians cannot avoid listening to. And by working together, The Climate Coalition makes sure that the public voice is heard by those who can make a difference in creating a cleaner, more secure future.
So far The Climate Coalition has already tipped the balance in favour of landmark UK Government decisions, such as setting a legally binding net zero emissions target. Now The Climate Coalition is focused on keeping up the pressure to ensure that politicians put in place the policies and investments needed to cut carbon and build a cleaner, greener future.
As an environmental charity, The Climate Coalition relies on the support of people who are invested in protecting the people and places they love from the worst effects of climate change. This support helps the charity to keep up the pressure on the UK Government and deliver climate change awareness campaigns like Great Big Green Week.
Action For Conservation
Action For Conservation works with secondary schools to inspire and empower students, from diverse backgrounds, to become the next generation of conservationists and environmental leaders.
The charity runs school-based workshops, as well as hosting residential camps, organising environmental work placements and running online networks for young people. These all help to educate young people about the environment, whilst developing a proactive youth conservation movement in the UK.
Mindful that every job should be a climate job, Action For Conservation believes that a passion for nature can flow through anyone’s life, whatever their day job. As such, they inspire today’s young people to a long-term belief in the wonder of the natural world, which will shape their dreams and actions however their life turns out.
Rewilding Britain aims to tackle the climate emergency and extinction crisis, whilst reconnecting people with the natural world and helping communities to thrive.
Founded in 2015, this environmental charity is the first and only country-wide organisation in Britain focusing on rewilding and the benefits it can bring to people, nature and the climate.
Its rewilding projects help to restore and regenerate woodlands. This helps mitigate climate breakdown and species extinctions, as well as helps prevent localised flooding and soil degradation.
Of course, it’s not just about trees. Rewilding Britain also helps to revitalise other carbon-rich habitats such as peat bogs, grasslands and seabeds.
The charity supports people who are looking for specific support in how to rewild. From people with a small patch of land to a huge farm or estate or project with multiple owners. It also advocates for policies that will enable the systemic change needed to encourage rewilding. Rewilding Britain’s lofty ambition is to see 30% of Britain rewilding by the end of this century.
Black Environment Network
The Black Environment Network (BEN) is a registered charity that was set up in 1987 to advocate for multicultural environmental participation.
BEN does this by raising awareness and enabling opportunities for ethnic communities to take part in environmental initiatives that are socially and culturally relevant to them. Crucially, BEN also works with other environmental organisations, to help gain the necessary awareness and skills to work effectively with ethnic communities.
The Soil Association
The Soil Association is an environmental charity that works with everyone to transform the way we eat, farm and care for the natural world. Working with farmers, businesses, policymakers and citizens, it aims to build natural solutions for the planet’s future.
The charity influences the government on UK food, farming, and land use policy. And in order to make farming a force for good, The Soil Association also supports farmers to use more environmentally friendly farming practices, sets organic standards, and promotes organic food as an all-round healthier choice.
Its vital work is supported by members and donations. This allows the charity to work with communities, businesses and the government to bring about real environmental change.
Friends Of The Earth
Friends of the Earth is an environmental campaigning community, that since 1971, has been dedicated to the well-being and protection of the natural world and everyone in it.
From its campaigners and lawyers to local action groups and supporters, this charity pushes for change on environmental causes that matter. This includes:
- Empowering local people to make their communities better for everyone.
- Pushing for government action on the energy crisis using solutions we already have.
- Fighting for environmental and social justice globally.
It’s thanks to campaigning by Friends of the Earth that the Climate Change Act – a law that would commit the government to cut CO2 emissions by 3% year on year – was enacted in 2006. And it’s also thanks to campaigning from Friends of the Earth that our recycling is now collected from our doorsteps
UK Youth Climate Coalition
Formed in 2008, the mission of the UK Youth Climate Coalition is to mobilise and empower young people (aged 18 – 29) to take positive action for global climate justice.
Striving to not only tackle climate change but to challenge the roots of social and climate injustice, this non-profit volunteer group wants to create a fair world in which youth voices are at the forefront.
The charity offers free workshops to schools and youth groups to empower more young people to take action for climate justice. And as well as its education work, it runs vital campaigns to bring about the systemic and political changes needed to tackle climate change.
Plantlife is an international conservation membership charity that works to secure a world rich in wild plants and fungi. In fact, it is the only UK membership charity dedicated to conserving wild plants and fungi in their natural habitats and helping people to enjoy and learn about them.
Why wild plants and fungi? Plantlife says that wild plants and fungi underpin the health of our environment. Protecting them will allow the plants and the animals which depend on them to thrive. This in turn will help to resolve the climate, ecological and societal challenges which we face.
With the aim of protecting and restoring a wide variety of wild plants and fungi in our countryside, towns and cities, this environmental charity works across a variety of habitats. This includes grasslands, mountains, woodlands, coasts, heathlands, farmland and peatlands.
Plantlife also works to protect and restore important habitats, such as hay meadows, grassland, limestone pavement and blanket bog.
And as well as protecting and restoring landscapes the charity pushes for environmental strategies which will restore native plant species and habitats. Together, it also campaigns to end activities which threaten and destroy habitats.
The Woodland Trust
The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the United Kingdom. Concerned with the creation, protection, and restoration of native woodland heritage, so far this environmental charity has planted over 50 million trees since 1972. That works out to around 1 million trees a year.
It also works to restore ancient woodlands. This helps to improve landscape resilience and provides habitats for plants and animals to thrive in.
And, as well as planting trees, The Woodland Trust fights to protect existing woods and trees and campaigns for policies that protect trees. This vital work helps to prevent the loss of irreplaceable habitats and carbon stores needed to help fight climate change.
Climate Outreach is an environmental charity that helps people understand climate change – an admittedly complex issue – in ways that resonate with their sense of identity, values and worldview.
The charity believes that real change happens when people across society and around the world understand the key issues. As such, their informed consent and support create what Climate Outreach calls a social mandate for climate action.
By placing people at the heart of climate change, the team has driven public engagement with climate change.
Highlights of Climate Outreach’s work include: driving climate conversations across society; finding ways to talk about climate change across the political spectrum; changing the way millions of people see climate change; accelerating understanding of how to mainstream low-carbon lifestyles; and working to ensure a just transition is at the heart of our path to net zero.
The Conservation Foundation
Co-founded in 1982 by David Shreeve and David Bellamy, The Conservation Foundation works to inspire, enable and celebrate positive environmental action.
The charity creates and manages environmental projects, award schemes, awareness campaigns, publications and events covering wide-ranging issues – all aimed at different and diverse audiences. These initiatives have the aim of reaching as many people as possible and sharing the benefits of conserving and protecting our natural environment.
The Foundation also acts as an environmental incubator. Through funding, it helps fledgling environmental organisations get off the ground and helps them turn good ideas into fundable projects. This creates a network of organisations that are a force for good.
Founded in 1971, Greenpeace is a global movement of people who are passionate about defending the natural world from destruction. Its vision is a greener, healthier and more peaceful planet – one that can sustain life for generations to come.
The charity does not accept any funding from governments, corporations or political parties. Instead, its work is funded by ordinary people. That means Greenpeace is free to confront governments and corporations responsible for the destruction of the natural world and push for real change.
Greenpeace does this by investigating, documenting and exposing the causes of environmental destruction. It works to bring about change by lobbying, utilising consumer pressure and mobilising members of the general public. And it takes peaceful direct action to protect the Earth and promote solutions for a green and peaceful future.
The World Land Trust
The World Land Trust is a UK-based environmental charity that seeks to protect the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats from destruction.
Working through a network of partner organisations around the world, the Trust funds the creation of reserves and provides permanent protection for habitats and wildlife. Partnerships are developed with established and highly respected local organisations that engage, support and gain commitment from the local community.
Supported by Sir David Attenborough, Steve Backshall, Chris Packham and Bill Oddie, so far the charity has been instrumental in the purchase and protection of more than 2,222,247 acres of tropical forest and other threatened habitats. Between it and its partners, together the Trust ensures that more than four million acres of land is managed under active protection worldwide.
Surfers Against Sewage
Set up in 1990 by a group of Cornish surfers, Surfers Against Sewage has grown to be a UK-wide charity. Now this marine conservation charity works with communities across the British Isles to protect oceans, waves, beaches and marine life.
Campaigning on key issues such as sewage, plastic pollution, the climate emergency and ocean recovery, its community of nationwide Ocean Activists all fight to see the ocean thrive.
Through campaigning and education programmes, Surfers Against Sewage aim to confront the issues affecting the seas head-on, from the beachfront to the front benches and everywhere in between.
Want to get involved? From signing petitions and taking part in cleans, to emailing your MP to demand action, and protesting against water companies, there are all sorts of ways you can be an Ocean Activist.
FareShare is a charity network established in 1994, which aims to tackle hunger and reduce food waste in the United Kingdom. Each week alone FareShare provides enough food to create almost a million meals for vulnerable people.
Made up of 18 independent organisations, FareShare takes good quality surplus food from the food industry and distributes it to nearly 9,500 frontline charities and community groups. Beneficiaries include school breakfast clubs, older people’s lunch clubs, homeless shelters, and community cafes.
Not only does this help tackle food poverty, but it also diverts surplus food from landfill. This is a key step in fighting climate change, as food sent to landfill rots and produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas with 21 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide.
In fact, if food waste was a country it would be the third largest emitter of carbon globally. And in the UK alone, food waste accounts for between 6 and 7% of our total greenhouse gas emissions. FareShare’s vital work, therefore, tackles two key areas – food poverty and climate change.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is one of the UK’s oldest environmental charities – dating back to 1888 when it was founded to counteract the impacts of the feather trade.
Today the RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home and secure a healthy environment for wildlife.
The RSPB work in the UK and around the world. It carries out vital conservation work, protects habitats, saves species, and is working to help end the climate emergency. It does this through five main work areas: science, species, places, people and policy – spending 90% of its net income on conservation, public education and advocacy.
In addition to these charities, here are some UK charities that plant trees – helping to restore and protect our forests and woodlands. I’ve also outlined the best marine conservation charities that work to help conserve and protect our oceans.
How To Support Your Favourite Environmental Charities
Once you’ve decided which charity you would like to support, you then need to think about how you would like to help.
Ways in which you can support these climate change and environmental charities include:
💷 Donating money
Charities rely on donations to support costs not covered by grant funding, and to deliver donor-supported projects, such as tree-planting activities.
There is no one set way to donate money to your chosen environmental charity. You could set up a monthly direct debit for a fixed amount each month, or you could give the charity a one-off payment.
If you are giving a one-off payment, then most charities have a donate page where you can donate securely using your bank card or PayPal account. If you are a UK taxpayer, then don’t forget to select the Gift Aid option. This allows the charity to claim 25p for every £1 you donate, from HMRC. So, if you donate £10 to charity and select the Gift Aid option, the charity can claim an additional £2.50.
Alternatively, you could choose to leave your charity of choice a gift in your will. In your will, you can state whether you’d like to donate a fixed amount, or whatever sum of money remains once the other gifts have been distributed.
🪣 Help with fundraising
Even if you can’t afford to donate money, you can still support your favourite charity by helping to spread the word about their environmental work.
This can be as simple as following along with the charity on social media, and liking and sharing their posts. Whether they are running an environmental awareness day or appealing for funds.
If you want to get more involved, you could organise a fundraiser. From sponsored walks and runs, to sponsored litter picks, and more, there are heaps of ways you can help to raise vital funds for your favourite charity.
There may also be scope to work with your workplace, school, community group, or church to help raise awareness of the charity’s work and/or raise funds for them.
Many charities rely on volunteers to help with admin, outreach work and specific environmental activities in your local area. If you have time to take part, then get in touch with your chosen charity to discuss where your skills would be best suited.
Check out my guide on how to support environmental charities for more ideas.