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Co-op launches £3m Carbon Innovation Fund

The fund, which launches this month, will provide funding of up to 10 grants of up £100,000 per year, up to a maximum of £1m a year for the next three years

Co-Op has announced the launch of a new £3m Carbon Innovation Fund in partnership with its charity, the Co-op Foundation, that aims to support UK businesses with funding for projects that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver social value.

Organisations tackling climate change are now invited to apply for funding of up to £100k, with first-stage applications set to close on 10 December.  

The fund, which launches this month, will provide funding of up to 10 grants of up £100,000 per year, up to a maximum of £1m a year for the next three years, helping to drive solutions to reduce carbon emissions within the food system and farming communities.  

It is aimed at projects run by charities, social enterprises, community organisations and local, regional and national governments that aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the food and farming sector and contribute to “real system change”.  

The funding has been donated by Co-op from the sale of compostable carrier bags in the UK, with the remainder coming from the Co-op Foundation’s own funds. The foundation expects to support up to 10 projects a year, which benefit the wider community and those most affected by climate change. 

The fund will also aim to produce an annual research report providing insight into the social challenges that the UK faces in the transition to a decarbonised society. 

It comes as the group said it is set to invest over £11m to help community environmental causes, social enterprises, charities and groups, both in the UK and abroad, over the next three years.

Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food CEO said: “At this time, when Cop26 brought into stark focus the realities if we don’t all cooperate for a healthy planet, it is clear investment is critical to building a greener, healthier and more prosperous future. Both the new Carbon Innovation Fund and our new commitment through our Local Community Fund will give us strong and impactful opportunities to make a difference.

“With the Carbon Innovation Fund, we’re looking to do something different. Rather than ideas for individual commercial benefit, we want innovations that can be freely shared and can be of benefit to society in general. It’s this type of co-operation that we believe we need to help accelerate our response to the climate crisis.”

Nick Crofts, CEO of the Co-op Foundation, added: “The Co-op Foundation is committed to tackling climate change, and through this new Carbon Innovation Fund, we want to inspire businesses and organisations to get involved in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases to help communities across the UK and the world. 

“These don’t have to be new ideas – we’re also interested in ancient and indigenous knowledge that may just need investment to become something that can benefit food system and farming communities. Learning from the past can inform a greener future that can be enjoyed for generations to come.” 

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