Hess To Give $12.5 Million to Salk Institute To Work on Plant-Based Carbon Capture and Storage
Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative will receive a $12.5 million gift from Hess to advance two projects to enhance plants’ natural ability to store carbon and mitigate the effects of climate change: the CO2 Removal on a Planetary Scale (CRoPS) program and the Coastal Plant Restoration (CPR) program.
Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative (HPI) will receive a $12.5 million gift from Hess to advance two projects to enhance plants’ natural ability to store carbon and mitigate the effects of climate change: the CO2 Removal on a Planetary Scale (CRoPS) program and the Coastal Plant Restoration (CPR) program. These projects build on the Salk discovery of a crucial gene that will help the team develop plants with larger root systems capable of absorbing and storing potentially billions of tons of carbon per year from the atmosphere.
“We are grateful to Hess for funding the Harnessing Plants Initiative to address issues of climate change,” said Rusty Gage, president of Salk. “This generous gift will help make possible the effort to use plants to significantly reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stably store it for long periods.”
“Climate change is the greatest scientific challenge of the 21st century," said Hess Chief Executive Officer John Hess. "Scientific advancements such as Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative will play a vital role in meeting this challenge, and we are delighted to support this groundbreaking work. This gift reflects our company’s long-term commitment to sustainability.”
The CRoPS program aims to create Salk Ideal Plants, which will have robust root systems rich in a naturally occurring plant molecule called suberin (e.g., cork), making them a scalable and affordable way to store carbon in the soil. These crop plants can then be integrated into global agriculture to decrease atmospheric carbon by potentially billions of tons per year. The additional carbon will make the soil richer in organic matter, resulting in better crop yields.
The CPR program focuses on protecting and restoring wetland ecosystems. Coastal plants such as mangroves, marsh grasses, and wetland plants have the natural ability to draw down even more carbon dioxide per year than land plants and can store the carbon for centuries in their roots. Salk HPI scientists will conduct genetically informed restoration and preservation of these wetlands by selecting the best-performing plants suitable for specific geographies, water and sediment chemistries, and climates.