By Roger Bales and Martha Conklin

Many of California’s 33 million acres of forests face widespread threats stemming from past management choices. Today the U.S. Forest Service estimates that of the 20 million acres it manages in California, 6-9 million acres need to be restored.

Forest restoration basically means removing the less fire-resistant smaller trees and returning to a forest with larger trees that are widely spaced. These stewardship projects require partnerships across the many interests who benefit from healthy forests, to help bring innovative financing to this huge challenge.

The California Wildfires in Photos

california wildfires

We are engineers who work on many natural resource challenges, including forest management. We’re encouraged to see California and other western states striving to use forest management to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire.

But there are major bottlenecks. They include scarce resources and limited engagement between forest managers and many local, regional and state agencies and organizations that have roles to play in managing forests.

However, some of these groups are forming local partnerships to work with land managers and develop innovative financing strategies. We see these partnerships as key to increasing the pace and scale of forest restoration.

Under contemporary conditions, trees in California’s forests experience increased competition for water. The exceptionally warm 2011-2015 California drought contributed to the death of over 100 million trees. As the forest’s water demand exceeded the amount available during the drought, water-stressed trees succumbed to insect attacks.

Funding is a significant barrier to scaling up treatments. Nearly half of the Forest Service’s annual budget is spent on fighting wildfires, which is important for protecting communities and other built infrastructure. But this means the agency can restore only a fraction of the acres that need treatment each year.

The Benefits of Restoration

Forest restoration provides many benefits in

By Ross Kerber and Matthew Green

BOSTON/LONDON (Reuters) – Five Democratic U.S. senators on Thursday asked BlackRock Inc

to justify why it rarely supported shareholder resolutions tied to climate change issues despite its increased focus on the environment this year.

The proxy voting record of the top asset manager is “troubling and inconsistent,” according to a letter sent to Reuters by the office of U.S. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii and signed by four others.

In a statement sent by a spokesman, BlackRock said its work on behalf of clients includes both voting and engagement, or talks with corporate managers. It cited certain negative proxy votes cast this year and noted the company now more often publishes details about votes.

“We are currently reviewing our engagement priorities and voting guidelines,” BlackRock said.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink in January had vowed to press companies to do more to combat climate change, underscoring the shifting moods of clients and reflecting new money pouring into sustainable investing strategies.

But a pair of recent studies found that BlackRock supported climate-related proxy resolutions only around 10% of the time this year, in line with its past record. Other companies took a more aggressive tack this year, notably the asset-management arm of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Schatz’s letter cited one of those studies and noted how in several cases BlackRock’s support for management was decisive. He also wrote that BlackRock backed nearly all directors at oil, gas and utility companies.

Earlier on Thursday, speaking at an online news conference about efforts to limit climate change, BlackRock Vice Chairman Philipp Hildebrand said the company had appointed new leaders to its stewardship team.

“As a result of our commitment and these changes that were implemented during this transition year, you should certainly expect that our voting engagement outputs

Civil unrest has gripped the U.S. since the May killing of George Floyd, prompting companies across industries to commit to racial justice and support initiatives that promote equity and inclusivity.

On Thursday, JPMorgan Chase made a $30 billion pledge to address racial inequality over the next five years, standing out as one of the largest race-related corporate financial commitments since public upheaval began in early June. The announcement comes shortly after Citi and Bank of America pledged $1 billion respectively to tackle racial inequality and economic mobility among communities of color. 

“Systemic racism is a tragic part of America’s history,” Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, said in a statement. “We can do more and do better to break down systems that have propagated racism and widespread economic inequality, especially for Black and Latinx people. It’s long past time that society addresses racial inequities in a more tangible, meaningful way.”

The bank’s pledge includes a combination of loans, equity, and direct funding that will expand homeownership for communities of color, grow Black and Latinx-owned businesses and improve their access to banking.

Much like Citi’s pledge, the majority of JPMorgan’s investment is allocated to housing. The bank says it will commit up to $4 billion in refinancing loans to provide Black and Latinx Americans with lower mortgage payments and an additional $14 billion in new loans and equity investments to help finance 100,000 affordable rental units in underserved communities.

The bank also plans to launch a new coaching program for underrepresented entrepreneurs, provide 15,000 loans worth $2 billion to small businesses in predominantly Black and Latinx communities, and will spend an additional $750 million with diverse suppliers.

Exclusionary policies have long kept racial and ethnic minorities from accessing mainstream financial services like

By Christopher Walljasper

CEDAR GROVE, Wisc. (Reuters) – China may fall short of annual agricultural product purchasing commitments made in its Phase 1 trade deal with the United States due to “non-agricultural trade issues,” U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Friday.

“I’m not sure they’re going to make it, but they’re trying,” Perdue said during a town hall meeting with farmers at Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative. “Non-agricultural trade issues get in the way.”

China committed to importing $36.5 billion in U.S. farm products this year in the trade deal signed in January, but lagging purchases during the first half of the year cast doubt on the goal of increasing imports by more than 50% over 2017 levels.

It was unclear which trade issues Perdue believed were obstacles to the agreement. A series of hurdles have emerged since the Phase 1 deal was implemented, including a threatened U.S. ban on popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok and an executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump ending preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong.

Chinese imports of U.S. agricultural products totaled just $8.6 billion from January through July, according to the latest U.S. Census trade data.

Buying has accelerated considerably in August and September, including around 12 million tonnes of soybeans and 4 million tonnes of corn, according to preliminary U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

(Story refiles to fix garbled text)

(Reporting by Christopher Walljasper in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin; Additional reporting by Karl Plume in Far Hills, New Jersey; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

Source Article

Company continues to advance its Corporate Responsibility Commitment goals through empowering employees to foster collective impact

WILMINGTON, Del., Sept. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Chemours Company (Chemours) (NYSE: CC), a global chemistry company with leading market positions in fluoroproducts, titanium technologies, and chemical solutions, today published its third annual Corporate Responsibility Commitment report, continuing the company’s commitment to responsible chemistry.

The company’s Corporate Responsibility Commitment is anchored by ten bold goals targeted for completion by 2030 that are aligned across three key pillars–Inspired People, Shared Planet and Evolved Portfolio. They cover eight key areas of focus that the company defines as follows:

Safety Excellence–Focusing on the safety of our people, communities and the environment around us

Vibrant Communities–Investing in our communities to improve lives through education, safety, and sustainable environment programs

Empowered Employees–Building an engaged global workforce to reflect the varied viewpoints and diversity of the communities in which we operate

Climate–Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to support the global transition to a low-carbon economy

Water Quality–Safeguarding this important shared natural resource through the reduction of air and water process emissions

Waste–Reducing landfill waste generation by refining our products and processes

Sustainable Offerings–Increasing our portfolio offerings that contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), and the percentage of revenue derived from them

Sustainable Supply Chain–Driving responsible behaviors throughout our supply chain

The report, which is based on Chemours’ 2019 operations, is entitled “Single Focus, Shared Future” and highlights the contributions made by Chemours’ 7,000 employees across the globe, and how their actions contribute to the company’s sustainability goals.

Through a singular focus of helping to create a better world, Chemours employees are seamlessly integrating their Corporate Responsibility Commitment into the company’s business strategies, daily operations, customer and supplier interactions, community partnerships, and neighborhood outreach. The 2019