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The Trillion Trees Initiative and Sustainability

The Trillion Trees Initiative was in focus at the January 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos. President Trump endorsed the initiative in his State of the Union address. Companies may want to consider this and other green initiatives as the trend for company sustainability continues to gain traction.

What is it?

The Trillion Trees initiative attempts to bring together numerous environmental groups, conservation organizations, governments, corporations, and individuals in an effort to plant trees and save existing forests from destruction. The goal is to plant one trillion trees before 2050 and sustain the replanted areas over time.

Why would we do this?

Deforestation is a significant contributor to an increasing percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide comes from the destruction of existing forests through fire or lumbering, and the deforestation problem exists on every continent but Antarctica. Trees and other plants convert carbon dioxide, water, and light into energy. The carbon dioxide remains “sequestered” in the plant as the plant grows, so an effective method of carbon dioxide reduction is to reforest lands.

When the plant dies, doesn’t it release the carbon dioxide?

Yes, but slowly as the plant is broken down by normal biological processes. The idea is to recreate normal forest growth in areas that have lost forest lands or continual seasonal regrowth in grasslands or other types of plants. With more plants, more carbon dioxide is required to sustain them.

Is planting trees really effective?

By planting a lot of trees quickly, the growth of them would have a real and significant impact on atmospheric carbon dioxide. The best study estimates that 25 percent of the atmospheric carbon dioxide would be removed by the effort. The effort would likely cost $300 billion, which, in spite of the large number, is cheaper and faster than many of the other technology- and economy-changing efforts that are underway. Moreover, trees provide habitat for birds and other wildlife, habitat that is threatened when forests are destroyed.

An opportunity for you or your company?

Trillion Trees is attempting to leverage smaller contributions into large acreages of forests. Contributing to one of the Initiative’s funds is a means of lowering your own carbon footprint. Encouraging urban tree canopies through local governments is another way of contributing to the effort. And perhaps a new business opportunity exists: Growing and planting seedlings. After all, this is a LOT of trees!

See www.trilliontrees.org for more information.

© 2020 Schiff Hardin LLP

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About this Author

Jane E Montgomery, Schiff Hardin Law firm
Partner

Jane E. Montgomery concentrates her practice in a variety of matters at the local, state and federal levels. Ms. Montgomery regularly: Counsels many companies with day-to-day compliance issues, including air permitting, NSPS, MACT, and solid and hazardous waste issues. In her work, she often encounters difficult elemental mercury, manufactured gas plant, and PCB issues, and she recently has focused on Reform New Source Review (NSR) compliance for utilities. Counsels clients with respect to climate change issues. Such work has included work on carbon sequestration issues, greenhouse gas...

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