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22 August 2019

Trees can stop global warming: who will fund them?

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Climate change, or rather climate urgency is hot: it is on the streets, it is making headlines in the press, and it was central in the last May European elections.
Being climate-conscious is no longer the prerogative of scientists and NGO’s. Everyone is asking for action, like on March 15th when our youth demonstrated in 128 countries.

Governments are being sued and some corporations are being blamed by their own investors and shareholders for their inaction. There are open climate litigations in at least 28 countries around the world.

The solution is known: We need to quit our fossil fuel addiction and restore our forests. This made headlines last week as the Zürich University published their study on ´the global tree restoration potential´. ´Restoration is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate solutions proposed,´ said Prof. Tom Crowther, lead of the study. 

Planting 1 trillion trees could remove around 200 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide

With close to 1 billion hectares (or roughly an area the size of the United States) we can remove more than 5 times our current global annual emission or two-thirds of the excess carbon in the atmosphere that accumulated since the industrial revolution. These large numbers can be hard to grasp. In essence, this is 33% more than the current amount of trees in the world and would only require half of the degraded land on earth. So, it is possible. 

Who will fund this?

Everyone agrees reforestation is the best and cheapest solution for climate. However, a solution is nothing without funding: the estimated budget at that scale is $300 billion.
Considering what is at stake, it makes sense for governments to spend public money on it. To date, 40 national governments and the European Union have endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests and made a pledge to conserve and restore forests. We yet have to see that really happening. In any case, governments alone are not going to get us there; private money is badly needed and corporates know they need to contribute. 

Impact marketing and carbon offsets with trees

Using this, with over 300 companies already engaged, WeForest knows first-hand how corporates and the world can directly benefit. This is a very powerful way of funding this cause: companies plant one tree for every product sold or grow a forest to compensate for the footprint they cannot yet reduce. One tree for every hotel room booked and every airline ticket sold would fund 9 billion new trees annually or almost a third of the annual needs. 

´The climate marchers are also consumers...,´ Marie-Noëlle Keijzer, our CEO and co-founder points out. ´What if for everything we purchase or consume, we chose a brand that protects and restores forests

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Marie-Noëlle Keijzer

Co-founder, vice-president of the board, Board Member WeForest France, and CEO
Marie Noëlle provides strategic guidance to the organization. As a multilingual social entrepreneur with 22 years of experience in senior corporate leadership in Supply Chain, CSR and business transformation, she offers expertise in business development, strategy, marketing, communication, advocacy and public speaking. She holds a master's degree in Environmental Science from the ULB, Belgium, a master's degree in Business Administration from IADE, Spain and is a member of Al Gore's Climate reality Corps.