Environmental investors fund fuel reduction projects

Here’s how it works: Investors buy into the bond, and the money is drawn as needed for forest restoration work. This includes thinning, strategic backfires and other rehabilitation. In this first case, it was a $4 million bond with money from CSAA Insurance, Maryland-based investment firm Calvert Impact Capital, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The investors are paid back over five years, with 4% interest, by those who benefit from the work and have contracted with Blue Forest, like the U.S. Forest Service and state agencies. In this case, payments will come from the Yuba Water Agency, whose reservoirs receive water from the forest and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

And the bond couldn’t come at a better time in the investor community, as an increasingly popular trend of socially conscious investing is taking off. It’s called ESG, which stands for environmental, social and corporate governance. It focuses on investing for the greater good; in this case, buying into the health of the forest but still making money.

It is exactly the kind of investment Jennifer Pryce, CEO of Calvert Impact Capital, says her clients want.

“Our investors are looking for an impact and a financial return, and this is off the charts when you look at what it’s giving back,” said Pryce, who polls investors each year to see how they want to align their capital with their values. “Fighting climate change is No. 1.”

She admits this one was a difficult sell because it is designed to prevent fires, rather than fight them. Still, once the possibilities and savings were made clear, the investors were in.

It’s not exactly “fighting climate change” either.  I wonder what else might get lost in translation, and would the “environmental” investors necessarily like the “other rehabilitation” that the Forest Service decides to fund with their money, and whether there are any restrictions on what an agency could use the funds for.  An interesting concept though …

6 thoughts on “Environmental investors fund fuel reduction projects”

  1. There is very little we can do to actually “prevent fires”, except for public vigilance. There are many things we can do to mitigate fire behavior, though. Sadly, we are using human-caused fires to ‘manage’ today’s landscapes. Hazard trees seem to be a bigger culprit, these days, with many reports of trees and branches falling on un-energized lines, during the last few weeks.

  2. Wow, now that’s one damn slick infomercial flagrantly misrepresented as CNBC “News” — fair and balanced alright — not only classic and shameless journalistic malfeasance, but a classic bait and switch, CONfidence scam. Nice!

    And this brought to you by whom?

    Why, the very tippy-top (.001% economic percentile of ‘merika) the very deregulated financial industry perpetrators of our last Great Recession who ended up fantastically richer than ever, and who’ve been heavily invested in profiteering from fossil fuel and neoliberal extractivism driving climate catastrophe to begin with.

    This is not just maintaining business as usual as agents of our global demise, this is luring feckless investors into treating the effects of the problem instead of the CAUSE of the problem (But in order to get yet richer? All the symptoms of addiction coupled with terminal sociopathology are starkly evident here.)

    Cui bono? The multi-billionaire “philanthropists” Gordon and Betty Moore, Rockefeller, Hewlett, etc.etc. Foundations, Calvert, BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, et al.

    What’s the problem? In the words of a highly respected mentor:

    1) If it can be commodified, it will be commodified.

    2) Once something is commodified, it will almost certainly be privatized.

    3) If something can be monetized, it will be monetized.

    4) Once something is monetized, it will be de-democratized.

    It is no coincidence that Gang Green grantees of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, such as The Nature CONservancy, Trout Unlimited, CONservation International, and even the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, and many many others, all champion commodification, monetization, and financialization schemes such as carbon credits, clean development mechanisms, REDD, and too many other derivatives scams — but all which directly leads to the destruction of public lands for private profiteering; transfers of wealth to the richest, and ultimately, the destruction of democratic institutions and democratic principles.

    THAT’s why the NonProfit Industrial Complex of eNGOs will never directly address problem causation — they are a fully captured, fully financially-conflicted, gang of slick corporate proxies wearing “stakeholder” masks mouthing funder agendas in the name of CONservation.

  3. I just watched the CNBC story and have to agree with David that it’s certainly a slick infomercial that misrepresented a number of aspects of the wildfire issue, including showing numerous videos of recent California wildfires that have zero to do with forests and logging.

    I was also struck by all the video showing industrial logging operations that were cutting down what appeared to be rather large trees from native forests, perhaps on the Tahoe National Forest. I know that trees can grow even larger in the Tahoe region, but I was struck by all the moss and lichens on most of the trees and have a hard time believing that such a practice is really considered bona-fide, ecologically-based restoration, “thinning” for fire risk reduction or helping to fight the climate change and address the climate crisis. Here are some shots from the video.

  4. There are so many ways this could go sideways. Most importantly, if fuel reduction is the main focus, there are serious trade-offs that investors may not want to be contributing to, e.g., fuel reduction logging causes habitat loss, carbon emissions, and complex interactions between canopy removal and fire that are not all in the desired direction.

    • If done well, fuel reduction (which does not always include “commercial logging”) can _improve_ habitat — and save it from incineration.

      • Yep, just another accusation and another example of ‘slippery slopism’. Every compromise has some amount of activity that preservationists claim is “destructive”. While there may be some short term impacts from treatments, the “greater good” reduces fire intensities and impacts. Forests recover from such impacts very well. Much better than recovery from more intense fires.

        Again, EVERY decision is a compromise, and impacts have been analyzed and accepted by the consensus of many people and government employees. Yes, even a decision to “let nature take its course” is fraught with many unacceptable and unintended consequences.


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