Reprinted from Inside Salk magazine with permission from the Salk Institute.
“Climate change is real and is the greatest scientific challenge of the twenty-first century,” says John Hess, CEO of Hess Corporation, a global independent energy company.
And there’s little doubt in the executive’s mind that the research being done at the Salk Institute will lead to breakthroughs that are potential game changers in addressing climate change.
“The scientific advancements of Joanne Chory and her team will play a pivotal role in helping address the effects of climate change on our planet,” he says.
In February, the Hess Corporation donated $12.5 million to Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative (HPI), a bold, scalable approach aimed at using plants to mitigate climate change. Hess explains how his company was drawn to support Salk and HPI as an opportunity to build on the company’s progress in reducing its own carbon footprint.
“What better way to help tackle the challenge of climate change than by harnessing the power of Mother Nature, which has been capturing and storing carbon since the beginning of time?” Hess says.
Led by a team of six Salk plant biologists, including co-directors and professors Joanne Chory and Wolfgang Busch, HPI is developing plants that can store more carbon and keep it in soils longer. HPI is comprised of two programs: CRoPS (CO2 Removal on a Planetary Scale), which aims to develop crops called Salk Ideal Plants™ that can store more carbon in the ground for longer; and CPR (Coastal Plant Restoration)—spearheaded by Professor Joseph Noel— which is working toward genetically informed restoration and preservation of the world’s wetlands, which act as significant carbon sinks.
Hess first learned of HPI from Salk Trustee Howard Newman, Chairman and CEO of the investment firm Pine Brook Road Partners.
“I had no idea Salk was dedicated to plant research. But from the first moment I met Joanne, I was captivated by her passion,” Hess says. “She and her team are extraordinarily talented.”
Supporting Salk reflects Hess Corporation’s long-term commitment to sustainability and its industry leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance, Hess says. The company has been publishing a Sustainability Report for 23 years, which is available at www.hess.com/sustainability.
“We hope HPI can go global: that all crops in the world will be able to do the job of capturing and storing carbon in the earth,” he says. “We want to be there every step of the way to help the HPI team make their dreams come true. We’re inspired by their work and honored to support their efforts.”