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Amex Colleagues and Phoenix Leaders Plant Trees to Back Low-Carbon Communities

Photo: Courtesy of American Express
Photo: Courtesy of American Express

American Express put a stake – and many trees - in the ground in Phoenix, Arizona, with American Forests, a non-profit sustainability organization, aimed at increasing tree canopy and helping cities build resilience to climate-related events.

“The best time to plant the tree was 20 years ago, and the next best time is today,” said Orlando Cazarez, Chief Executive Officer, Arizona Sustainability Alliance, to an excited audience of volunteers and community leaders, including Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.

“Trees can help with shade and help reduce our greenhouse gas issues because of the carbon that’s captured in the trees. There are so many reasons that this makes sense, but we could not do it without partners like American Express,” said Mayor Gallego.

As part of our Environmental, Social, and Governance strategy, American Express is committed to supporting low-carbon communities with at least $10 million in grants, which will support nature-based solutions and sustainability efforts like this one in Phoenix.

Colleagues from our Phoenix office volunteered alongside representatives from American Forests and the Arizona Sustainability Alliance to plant 45 climate-resilient trees at the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area.

“The neighborhood we stand in right now is one of the most affected when the temperatures rise in the summer because there is simply not enough tree cover for adequate shade or shelter,” said Anneke Covell, Global Chief Privacy Officer at American Express.

Covell is a founding executive sponsor of our Phoenix Green2Gether chapter, a volunteer-based group dedicated to leveraging the passion and expertise of our colleagues to educate, inspire and engage in sustainability.

The habitat oasis is in central Phoenix where residents seek natural beauty along the banks of the Salt River and the habitat’s trails.

What’s yellow, green, and beautiful during spring? Blue Palo Verde trees, one of two native tree species planted this week; it is also the state tree of Arizona. Desert Willow trees were planted as well. 
In 2022, American Express announced a $1.1 million grant to American Forests to support its Tree Equity program in four U.S. cities where American Express has offices: – Phoenix; New York City; Sunrise, Florida; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

The grant will support climate-resilient urban forests, create forestry jobs marketed to historically marginalized populations, identify urban tree nursery needs and help build nursery capacity.
This program also expands Tree Equity Score, an evaluation of tree canopy, population density, surface temperature and other demographic factors. A score of 100 means that a neighborhood has achieved Tree Equity.

“This part of Phoenix has about one quarter of the tree cover that you would normally expect to find, and this is representative of a systemic inequity of trees we have all across America,” said Jad Daley, Chief Executive Officer, American Forests.

The central Phoenix neighborhood where these trees were planted has a Tree Equity score of 56. This lack of sufficient tree coverage means residents in this neighborhood are more exposed to the heat and other negative impacts of climate-related events.

If you’re interested in learning more about American Forests’ Tree Equity Score and finding the score for your city or town across America, click here.

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