How energy tech start-up Open Energy Market is attempting to lighten the deforestation footprint

At current rates of deforestation, rainforests will vanish altogether in a century. Every year about 18m hectares of forest – an area the size of England and Wales – is felled. In just 40 years, possibly 1bn hectares, the equivalent of Europe, has gone. Half the world’s rainforests have been stolen in a century, and the latest satellite analysis shows that in the last 15 years new hotspots have emerged from Cambodia to Liberia. At current rates, they will vanish altogether.

Global business and consumerism accounts for thousands of square miles of rainforest natural capital going up in smoke each year. But what about the organisations that are attempting to lighten their footprint?

It is true that the energy sector as a whole has historically come under justifiable fire for its approach to, and impact on, the environment. But to demonstrate its commitment to delivering lasting change and contributing to a sustainable future, Open Energy Market (OEM)has partnered with Cool Earth, the non-profit organisation that works alongside rainforest communities to halt deforestation and climate change – endorsed by leading environmentalist Sir David Attenborough and patronised by Dame Vivienne Westwood.

For each business that transacts through the OEM energy procurement and management platform, the company will determine the square footage of the facilities (or premises) that will be directly benefiting from the technology. OEM will then provide funds to Cool Earth that will protect an equivalent area of rainforest in Peru.

Having commenced in June the project is well underway and is already making a difference: the 28,800 trees already protected account for over 9 million litres of water production every year, locking in a staggering 31,200 tonnes of CO2.
Cool Earth has adopted a new approach to saving rainforest. Rather than injecting money to negate deforestation, Cool Earth empowers local people who have been forest custodians for generations. Through investments in livelihood initiatives which put communities back in control of their land, Cool Earth, with the support of partners like ourselves, help transform vulnerable villages on the arc of deforestation into robust defenders of the forest. This in turn, forms a shield that makes thousands of acres of rainforest inaccessible to loggers.

Feeding and fuelling our growing world is one of the greatest opportunities of the 21st century, but sending natural capital up in smoke and squandering ecosystems that support wealth creation in the process will, ultimately, be counterproductive.

Businesses that understand this will be central to making a change happen in this world and companies that go further and make solving social problems – including environmental ones – a part of their core business models, will be the rising stars of the future.

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