French telco Orange has launched a €50 million ($56.3m) carbon fund to finance reforestation and ecological restoration projects.

Launched in partnership with sustainable finance firm Mirova (Natixis Investment Managers), the Orange Nature fund will directly or indirectly invest in carbon sequestration projects around the world: afforestation, reforestation, and restoration of natural ecosystems (mangroves or agroforestry projects).

amazon rainforest trees thinkstock photos khlongwangchao
– Thinkstock / Khlongwangchao

“Orange Nature is a key element of the Group’s environmental policy,” said Elizabeth Tchoungui, executive director of CSR, diversity, and philanthropy at Orange. “By 2040, most of our CO2 emissions will have been reduced thanks to the actions undertaken over the previous years. Orange Nature will enable us to complete the task of becoming Net Zero Carbon in 2040, through the use of nature-based solutions that will capture the residual incompressible emissions. Nature is our shared resource. It is up to each and every one of us to preserve it.”

The project is part of Orange’s target to become Net Zero Carbon by 2040 for the three scopes described by the GHG Protocol; The returns from the Orange Nature fund will be in the form of carbon credits to capture a significant part of the Group’s residual CO2 emissions leading up to that 2040 goal.

Orange Nature will have a joint investment agreement with the Nature+ Accelerator Fund launched by the IUCN and the GEF providing further choices of carbon sequestration projects to invest in.

Marc Rennard, chairman and CEO of Orange Digital Investment, added: “Orange Nature is the first fund created and entirely funded by a large European company that provides a return exclusively in the form of carbon credits, thus supporting our commitment to the climate. We are very proud of this ambitious and innovative project that is the result of a close partnership with our partner Mirova, an experienced and well-known player in the area of natural capital.”

The company said it has already deployed several carbon sink projects including pine tree reforestation in Spain, mangrove plantation in Senegal, and participation in the Livelihoods Carbon Fund 3.

In October 2021, Orange signed a contract with Alliance Forêts Bois to finance the reforestation of around 175 hectares of forests in metropolitan France.

While not as common as renewable efforts such as installing solar panels or Power Purchase Agreements, a number of data center firms are beginning to invest in forestation projects. Last month Interxion announced it was sponsoring a new afforestation project in Palencia, Spain, following previous forestry projects in Madrid and France.

Other data center operators supporting reforestation or afforestation include QTS, which is working with American Forest on reforestation projects in the US, saying it will plant one tree per month for every 100 kilowatt (kW) customer agreement. In the Philippines, Converge ICT Solutions recently signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Aeta community here to adopt a two-hectare land for reforestation near Angeles City.

Anne-Laurence Roucher, Deputy CEO of Mirova said: “We are proud to team up with Orange to mobilize more private finance towards nature-based solutions to climate change. Ambitious commitments of corporates, when well framed and designed, can become powerful contributors to a net-zero economy.”

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