COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 4, 2003 -
American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), and five other project partners, received the 2003 Roy Family Award from Harvard University last night for their role in developing the Noel Kempff Mercado Climate Action Project in Bolivia. Recognizing AEP’s leadership role in the project, E. Linn Draper, Jr., AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, provided the keynote address during the award ceremony at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Other project partners are:
- The Nature Conservancy
- The Government of Bolivia
- Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza (a non-profit conservation organization in Bolivia)
The Noel Kempff Mercado Climate Action Project, one of the largest carbon sequestration projects in the world, reduces emissions of greenhouse gases by preventing deforestation from logging activities and other land use changes. Carbon dioxide also is removed from the atmosphere by the growth in the protected biosphere. Globally, deforestation contributes nearly 25 percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions.
The Noel Kempff project was recognized by Harvard University as a global model for its innovative approach to climate protection and as a prime example of how governments, non-governmental organizations and private companies can cooperate to promote sustainable development with lasting benefits for local communities and the global environment. The project is projected to prevent the emission of 7 million tons of carbon (or more than 21 million metric tons of carbon dioxide) during the next 30 years.
“We’re proud to be part of this project because it clearly demonstrates that forest sequestration can help address global climate change in an efficient and effective manner,” Draper said. “The project has protected an enormously rich and biologically diverse area from deforestation, while also fostering sustainable development of the local communities. In the process, we have developed cutting edge technologies for accurately monitoring and verifying the carbon absorbed by the forest ecosystem. We hope that our collaboration guides and inspires organizations interested in undertaking similar initiatives and helps inform the policy debate on this important issue.”
With an initial investment of $9.6 million in 1997, the project partners purchased and retired the logging rights to 2 million acres of forestland adjacent to Bolivia’s Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, effectively doubling the park’s size. In addition, the partners established an endowment fund to ensure that the park will be protected and well-managed in perpetuity. There are five distinctly different ecosystems within the park’s boundaries, and it is home to more than 130 species of mammals, 620 species of birds and some 70 species of reptiles.
AEP is involved in several other projects that share the same goals and benefits as the Noel Kempff project, but on a smaller scale. In another partnership with The Nature Conservancy, AEP is helping restore and protect 20,000 acres of Atlantic coastal rain forest in southern Brazil that previously was cleared for water buffalo ranching. AEP also is a partner in a project that has tripled the size of the Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana and reforested 18,000 acres of the refuge to create wildlife habitat and sequester carbon dioxide. Additionally, AEP has planted more than 60 million trees on company-owned property as part of a reforestation and carbon sequestration initiative.
“As a global energy company, AEP is proud of its continuing commitment to provide affordable, safe, reliable energy. At the same time, we work diligently in our daily operations to strike the balance between meeting current needs without compromising the needs of future generations. Our environmental initiatives go beyond what is required by law to help address the environmental challenges our society faces,” Draper explained.
The Roy Family Award was established by the Environment and Natural Resources Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government to recognize public-private partnerships that have attained exemplary achievements in the area of environmental protection and natural resources conservation. The award is given to specific projects that demonstrate leadership, innovation, strategic planning, community focus, sustainability, and could be replicated in other geographic or programmatic areas. The bi-annual award is being given for the first time in 2003.
American Electric Power owns and operates more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the United States and select international markets and is the largest electricity generator in the U.S. AEP is also one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with almost 5 million customers linked to AEP’s 11-state electricity transmission and distribution grid. The company is based in Columbus, Ohio.