Yesterday, retail bank HSBC pledged a £50m donation to the fund, money which will be used for projects which range from protecting China's Yangtze river to working out how cities can adapt to the effects of climate change.
Speaking at the launch, Attenborough described HSBC's reaction to the problems of climate change as 'spectacular':
'The complexity of the problem is so great, the dimension of the problem is so great, that the only way we can do something about it is to join together,' he said.
HSBC's chairman, Stephen Green, said that he would be keeping close tabs on the organisations chosen to receive the funding; the Climate Group, the Earthwatch Institute, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the WWF.
'I don't want to get to the end of five years and find we have wasted the money and have nothing to show for it, but at the same time I don't expect to get to the end of the five years and say the work is finished,' said Green.
HSBC's step will be welcomed by environmentalists who have criticised the bank recently for continuing to make carbon-intensive investments.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist May 2007