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Benioffs and Salesforce put $300m into combating climate change on eve of COP26

$200m committed to reforestation and restoration efforts, and $100m for non-profits over the next 10 years

On the eve of COP26 in Glasgow, Marc and Lynne Benioff have announced the donation of $200m for reforestation and environmental restoration efforts, alongside $100m in grants funding by Salesforce for non-profits over the next 10 years.

The first sum is earmarked for the “Benioff TIME Tree Fund” and investments from TIME Ventures, the Benioffs’ investment fund.

According to a statement from the Benioffs and Salesforce, the Tree Fund will focus on indigenous and community-based forest management and mitigating the increasing impacts of climate change on the most at-risk communities and natural ecosystems in emerging and developing countries.

The second tranche, of $100m, will enable volunteers, by way of grants, to deliver 2.5 million volunteer hours to non-profit organisations focused on climate action over the next decade.

Meanwhile, the software-as-a-service customer relationship management (CRM) supplier is also announcing what it calls a “global tree equity and urban reforestation initiative in partnership with American Forests, One Tree Planted, and [green investment advisory firm] SUGi to mobilise and engage ecopreneurs, local organisations and volunteers in cities with limited access to green spaces”.

As part of that, microforests are being established in Glasgow and London, with one taking place on Monday 9 November in Glasgow.

Benioff declared Salesforce to be net zero across its “value chain” and announced the attainment of 100% renewable energy for its operations during his keynote at Dreamforce 2021 in San Francisco.

The company is also a founder of 1t.org, a World Economic Forum initiative to grow one trillion trees by 2013, and has, says Salesforce, funded more than 40 million trees towards a 100 million trees goal.

Since 2016, the Benioffs themselves have given $68m in climate-related grants, according to the Salesforce statement. In 2016, they donated $10m to the University of California Santa Barbara and founded the Benioff Ocean Initiative.

Read more about COP26 and climate change

The Benioffs also partnered with the US National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to form the Pacific Islands Research and Conservation Programme in 2017.

They are also founding members of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Friends of Ocean Action initiative, providing nearly $11m in funding.

One the investment side of their ecological programme, they have, since 2014, invested $100m in climate-focused startups such as DroneSeed, Loam Bio, Mango Materials, NCX, Novoloop, Planet and Terraformation.

Marc Benioff, chair and CEO of Salesforce, said in the pre-COP26 statement: “We’re in a planetary emergency – a climate crisis that impacts everyone, especially for the most vulnerable among us. More than half of global GDP is exposed to risk from the nature loss effects of climate change. And it will only get worse unless we collectively take bold steps now to limit global warming.

“We need to apply every strategy possible to protect and preserve our planet. We must accelerate the world’s largest businesses to net zero as part of reducing global emissions by half by 2030; sequester 100 gigatons of carbon through restoring, conserving and growing one trillion trees; and energise an ecopreneur revolution to develop new technologies that will expedite the path to a decarbonised planet.

“Every country, company, community and person has a responsibility to act now – the cost of failing to address this global threat will be catastrophic. Our generation will be judged by the actions we take on climate change today.”

Read more on Datacentre energy efficiency and green IT

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