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New Salesforce Initiative Grows Blue Carbon Markets Investments

Benjamin L. Jones

Cloud-based software company Salesforce has established itself as a leading practitioner of corporate sustainability, having reached net-zero emissions across its full value chain and attained 100% renewable energy for its operations. The San Francisco-based developer of customer relationship management (CRM) software and applications is taking this program a step further with a new initiative to grow sustainable ocean-based carbon markets.

In April, the program was announced at Salesforce’s Our Ocean Conference of Palau. The goal is to develop consistent standards around high-quality blue carbon projects and credits, Salesforce said in a press release.

Photo Courtesy Benjamin L. Jones

Blue carbon is the name given to carbon captured by the ocean and coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves and seagrasses. Many companies are using it to offset their carbon emissions as they look to achieve net-zero by 2050.

Salesforce aims to help ensure that investments are made in high-quality blue carbon projects while promoting greater transparency and standardization.

“As investments in the blue carbon market grow, we must ensure that projects truly safeguard biodiversity, protect coastal and marine ecosystems, and ultimately improve the livelihoods of people in local communities,” Whitney Johnston, Ph.D., Director of Ocean Sustainability at Salesforce, said in a press release.

The initiative will be co-led by Salesforce and leading environmental organizations such as the World Economic Forum’s Friends of Ocean Action, the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA), Conservation International, and The Nature Conservancy, along with the Meridian Institute. A set of principles and definitions will be circulated for public comment in June 2022 at the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon. 

Salesforce also set a goal to purchase 1 million tons of high-quality blue carbon credits over the next four years – or just more than $10 million worth – to help expand the blue carbon market.

In a related move, Salesforce recently joined the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA), which aims to drive at least $500 million of investment into coastal projects by 2030. ORRAA’s goals align closely with those of Salesforce to promote carbon credits that will have the most impact.

“At the moment, there are too few on-the-ground solutions which can be a source for high-quality, verifiable blue carbon credit products ready to go to market, and no clear benchmarks or definitions of what a high-quality blue carbon product is – or should be,” ORRAA Executive Director Karen Sack said in a statement. “It is also important to develop demand-side guardrails to ensure that blue carbon credits are additional – not an alternative – to efforts to reach net zero. We are delighted that Salesforce is joining ORRAA and to be working jointly with them and other partners on this effort.”

Photo Courtesy Anastasia Taioglou

To help Salesforce reach its climate goals, the company also recently announced the appointment of Tim Christophersen as incoming Vice President of Climate Action. He’ll have two primary responsibilities in this role: leading the company’s strategy to develop nature-based solutions to climate challenges and accelerating Salesforce’s international sustainability efforts.

Christophersen’s previous work experience includes 15 years at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He most recently served as the Head of Nature for UNEP’s Climate Branch, focusing on reducing deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.

“Science tells us that it’s now or never to take climate action,” Christophersen said. “We’re already experiencing the first effects of climate change, from extreme weather events and wildfires to rapid loss of biodiversity and growing global inequality. Businesses can quickly and decisively scale up all the right solutions now for people, nature, and climate laid out by the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report. That’s why I’m proud to join Salesforce and leverage its full power on behalf of our planet.”

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