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PG&E launches funding challenge for “California Climate Challenge” with $1 million
The reality in the Golden state is drought, atmospheric storms, heatwaves and wildfires, all of which have been exacerbated by the growing effects of climate change. California’s five-plus year record-breaking drought, increasingly hot summers, record-breaking precipitation due to rain and snow and a longer and more intense fire season are said to be testimony to the more intense weather and the weather-fueled impacts of climate change.
PG&E Corporation recently funded the start-up of a new corporate-giving initiative dedicated to helping communities prepare for, withstand, and recover from extreme events caused by climate change. One million dollars in shareholder funds has been contributed by PG&E to launch a “California Climate Challenge” strategy to help communities. The strategy has three key pillars: respond, rebuild and foster resilience.
“We are already experiencing the reality of climate change in California – more severe and more frequent storms, heatwaves, wildfires, and drought, along with the threat of rising sea levels,” said Geisha Williams, CEO and president of PG&E Corporation. “PG&E is incorporating this ‘new normal’ into how we manage risks, plan, and invest our resources. But our collective response to extreme events such as the tragic North Bay firestorms must go beyond the immediate work of rebuilding what was lost. A focus on resilience will strengthen our communities for the future,”
The challenge is intended to foster donations and resources from across the state’s business community. The total amount raised, resources identified and the process for choosing projects for funding will be announced during the September 2018 Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. The California Climate Challenge will also provide a framework for corporate, environmental and government leaders regarding the risks that climate change is creating for the state’s infrastructure, economy and businesses.
The Bay Area Council Foundation (BACF) – a 501(c)(3) charitable entity – will administer the California Climate Challenge. BACF works to promote initiatives aimed at building stronger, more vibrant communities, a healthy economy, along with a more innovative, globally competitive and sustainable Bay Area region.
“California’s business climate is inseparable from its actual climate. Much of California’s infrastructure was built under a colder, wetter, more predictable climate than we have today,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Protecting our homes and employment centers from extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and wildfires, requires a top-to-bottom assessment of our existing resilience, and fresh thinking on how to best adapt.”
The three major pillars of the Respond – Rebuild – Resilience strategy include:
- Respond: To help communities respond, PG&E will continue working with first responders, including firefighting agencies, on increasing their effectiveness in both preventing and combatting wildfires. PG&E donated $25,000 to the Potter Valley Volunteer Fire Department in recognition of their heroic success in stopping wildfire flames from destroying a facility essential to the town’s water supply. The company also donated $15,000 to Santa Rosa Firefighters Local 1401 to fund their relief efforts.
“The hardworking people of PG&E and the Santa Rosa Fire Department work side by side in the field during emergencies to keep our community safe, which is why we are now excited to work together in bringing our community together and begin the road to recovery,” said Tim Aboudara Jr., president of the Santa Rosa Firefighters Local 1401.
- Rebuild: To help communities in the North Bay rebuild, PG&E donated $2 million to the North Bay Fire Recovery Fund, distributed $1 million to local communities, organized volunteer efforts, and created resources for customers and builders. The utility company has indicated that it will continue to partner with federal, state and local government agencies around critical community needs related to both temporary assistance and longer term, sustainable campaigns.
“These funds are immensely helpful as we support our local immigrant families to get back on their feet. It’s going to be a long road back for many of the people we serve and all help is appreciated,” said Josefina Hurtado, executive director of Puertas Abiertas, a community resource center in the Napa Valley. The agency works hand in hand with Latinos to inspire and achieve healthy living, self-sufficiency, and opportunities for leadership and community engagement.
- Resilience: In addition to funding the California Climate Challenge, PG&E is to helping to support resilience through other public-private partnerships, including this year’s launch of the Better Together Resilient Communities grant program and state-level participation in the Tree Mortality Task Force and Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program.
Mindy S. Lubber, a member of PG&E’s Sustainability Advisory Council and CEO and President of Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization, stated, “We applaud this initiative to fund a public-private partnership for climate resilience in California. Businesses are concerned about climate risks, which have the potential to cause wide-ranging disruptions to their operations and supply chains. Corporate support for tackling climate change is only growing stronger, and companies clearly see the benefit of staying ahead of the game and doing their part.”
Ceres leads negotiating teams of institutional investors, Fortune 500 CEOs and sustainability advocates who have taken far-reaching positions on corporate practices to tackle climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and human rights abuses.