In October 2022, The Russell Family Foundation (“TRFF” or “The Foundation”) announced its commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2030. For more than 20 years, The Foundation has prioritized community investment in grassroots leaders, environmental sustainability, and global peace. This commitment to net zero is a continuation of The Foundation’s longtime focus on the environment. Please see below for answers to commonly asked questions about net zero and The Foundation’s catalytic climate finance program.
Check back here for ongoing updates on The Foundation’s progress.
Defined as net zero, The Foundation aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its entire portfolio consistent with a maximum temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius. To put it simply, net zero is achieved when the amount of greenhouse gases produced is no more than the amount removed from the environment.
Since inception, The Foundation has focused on the environment, investing in environmentally sustainable opportunities, and serving as an original member of the DivestInvest Philanthropy Pledge in 2014. Our portfolio is also nearly 100% values-aligned and committing to net zero is a natural next step to address the urgent crisis that is climate change.
The Foundation has a lot of work to do to reduce emissions throughout its entire nearly $80-million-dollar investment portfolio and is exploring investments in a carbon-free economy. We are focused on finding partners who can help us, like the Net-Zero Asset Owners Alliance. We are examining frameworks that are available and science-based targets for interim targets for short- and long-term goals. We’ve conducted an initial review of the current portfolio and are in the process of setting targets for 2025, which we will publicly report and track against as part of our commitment to the Alliance.
The UN-convened Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance that TRFF joined has a goal of net zero by 2050. Why is TRFF committing by 2030?
Foundations with smaller asset pools may be able to act faster and have more flexibility compared to corporations or other organizations with more regulations. The Foundation believes that with its impact investment experience and ability to act nimbly it will be able to reach the goal of net zero sooner, by 2030.
Is net zero the same as what TRFF has been doing previously, such as the DivestInvest Philanthropy Pledge in 2014?
No. While The Foundation has been taking steps to invest more sustainably, it has not committed to net zero until now. The DivestInvest Philanthropy Pledge The Foundation signed in 2014 divested the investment portfolio from fossil fuel-related investments.
The Foundation will publicly set and report progress on 2025 targets and remain as transparent as possible so that others can learn from our entire journey.
The Foundation’s investment in Carbon Direct is a technology-based solution that is focused on some of the hardest industries to de-carbonize. The Foundation is also pursuing nature-based solutions, like sequestration and forestry, as well as environmental justice and inclusivity-based solutions. The Foundation will evaluate each investment to ensure that the impact is aligned with the stated mission and values.
The Foundation has made an initial $500,000 investment in Carbon Direct, which supports growth-stage companies in the U.S. and Europe focused on reducing, removing, and monitoring their carbon emissions. We invite you to follow along as we continue to shift our portfolio in alignment with our targets.
Through these efforts, The Foundation hopes to inspire other foundations to make similar commitments and will share key learnings with the philanthropic community through an eventual “playbook” that will outline best practices.
The primary challenge is that there is no roadmap for how to do it. Because there is no plan, it can prove difficult to bring decision-makers along to align all organizational actions towards this goal. Additionally, if a foundation is not participating in any environmental investing, it can mean a complete overhaul and re-education of investing philosophy.