Donors are paying to plant a million trees as part of a drive to counter US President Donald Trump’s decision to walk away from a global pact to curb climate change.
The “Trump Forest” – dubbed by three New Zealanders behind a website channeling funds to the project – hit the million milestone this week as the president heads into his second year in office, backers said.
Adrien Taylor, 28, one of three activists behind the project, launched the effort last March with the aim of planting carbon-absorbing trees to counter Trump’s policies on climate change.
The US president has said he aims to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, an international deal that seeks to hold global warming to relatively safe limits by cutting emissions.
“Trump wants to bring back coal,” the tree project website notes. “So we’re planting a forest to soak up the extra greenhouse gases Trump plans to put into our atmosphere.”
Some 3,000 supporters from France to the Czech Republic have donated more than $130,000 to plant mangroves in Madagascar through The Eden Reforestation Projects, a US-based nonprofit focused on restoring forests, Taylor said.
Nearly all of the million trees purchased have now been planted, he said. To grow, trees absorb carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas driving climate change.
“Climate change has no boundaries, so the decisions made by the White House affects us all around the world,” Taylor told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Scientists believe that if global average temperatures rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels the warming could trigger irreversible melting of the world’s ice sheets, and drive other changes such as worsening floods, droughts, storms and sea level rise.
At the University of Washington’s Centre for Environmental Politics, founding director Aseem Prakash welcomed the initiative as an encouraging example of people “taking individual responsibility” to combat climate change.
But Prakash stressed the need to see that the trees survive logging and other common challenges to reforestation efforts, he said.
“The devil is in the detail,” he said by phone.
Better management of nature and forests could avert more than 11 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year – about what China produces annually from using fossil fuels – by 2030, a study published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found last year.