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UPS: Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Global Commerce

The Challenge

Each year, more than 32 million acres of tropical forest — an area about the size of New York state — are cut down, releasing millions of tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Without action now, many of the world’s tropical forests will be lost by this century’s end. With these forests we will lose important species, natural resources and local livelihoods, as well as the opportunity to slow climate change.

As the world’s largest shipping and logistics company, UPS recognizes the impact of carbon emissions associated with its transportation-heavy business of supporting global commerce. The company, which operates its own jet cargo fleet and more than 94,000 vehicles, has implemented sustainability changes at the supply chain and operations levels that have resulted in bottom-line savings. They have determined that investing in the environment is not only the right thing to do – it’s good business.

The Commitment

Over the course of the past 30 years, The Nature Conservancy and UPS have worked together to advance forest conservation projects around the world. To date, The UPS Foundation – the company’s philanthropic arm – has provided close to $3 million for Conservancy projects ranging from local volunteerism to international tree-planting initiatives to support the conservation and restoration of forests as the “lungs of the planet.”

Initially, UPS supported the Conservancy’s local forest conservation work in Georgia, home of the company’s global headquarters. In 2008, the Foundation made its first commitment to support the Conservancy’s international forest work, for projects including tree-planting in Kenya, reforestation in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, and support of alternative energy in Yunnan Province, China, and subsequently expanded its focus on global reforestation.

A Sustainable Future

Beginning in October 2012, The UPS Foundation kicked off a year-long effort with the Conservancy and other non-profits to support UPS activities to plant more than one million trees, some by employee volunteers, worldwide by the end of 2013. Building on the relationship, the Conservancy and UPS are collaborating to pursue regional projects so that local UPS employees can support Conservancy forest projects in their area.

In 2013, funding from this initiative will support Conservancy projects designed to conserve critical forests and reduce the impacts of climate change in the following geographies:

  • Southern U.S. – Replanting the iconic southern longleaf pine forests.
  • Canada – Supporting the Conservancy’s role in the historic Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement to protect 187 million acres of boreal forests, one of the world’s largest carbon sinks.
  • Guatemala – Support for a water fund project restoring forests along critical water recharge zones near high population areas to promote soil retention, avoid landslides and secure clean water supplies for residents.
  • Haiti – Planting trees to re-establish the country’s devastated forests for the benefit of the residents that depend on them for food and water resources: equipping community members in the town of Tilori, close to the border with the Dominican Republic, to produce food and fuel by reforesting family-owned plots.
  • Brazil – Supporting the Plant a Billion Trees initiative in the Atlantic Forest and safeguarding clean water for the city of Sao Paolo by replanting an additional 11,662 native trees in the Cantareira watershed forests.
  • Europe/China – Facilitate climate and policy dialogues between high-level European policy makers and experts on climate efforts in China, in order to link compatible global carbon accounting efforts.

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