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Clearwater Credit Union, Missoula, donated $50,000 to climate resilience organizations in response to the global climate-change initiatives arising from COP-26.

“We know that problems like wildfire seasons are becoming more severe, smoke and air quality problems are becoming more severe,” said Paul Herendeen, Clearwater’s director of impact market development. “But on the flip side, we see a tremendous investment opportunity, and as a financial institution, that’s what we want to be doing.”

The donations were divided among Climate Smart Missoula Families for a Livable Climate and Montana Environmental Information Center, National Center for Appropriate Technology Montana Conservation Voters, and the Northern Plains Resource Council.

Herendeen stated that Clearwater regularly donates at least 5% of its net revenue each year to charitable causes.

“The stakes are high,” said Amy Cilimburg, executive director of Climate Smart Missoula.  “This financial support will help us accelerate our efforts to ‘Electrify Missoula,’ partner with low-income advocates to grow our Clean Indoor Air program, collaborate with others around the state to reduce emissions and build resiliency, and so much more.”

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The COP-26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland featured pledges from financial institutions representing the richest countries of the globe to contribute $100 million a year towards global warming mitigation initiatives. 

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“We know this bit of philanthropy is small relative to the scale of the problem,” said Jack Lawson, Clearwater’s president & CEO. “We hope it signals serious intent. The threat that climate change poses to our well-being and health could not be greater. At the same time, the economic opportunities presented by taking action to combat it are huge. Credit unions as well as banks must take this initiative. After all, it is our lending activity that should be supporting the energy transformation we all need.”

Herendeen said Montana’s opportunities to grow wind, solar and conservation energy projects would have important local effects.

“What we would love to see is more development of the clean-energy economy in Montana,” Herendeen said. “There’s a lot of work done locally, and those are good local jobs that can’t be offshored or moved around. We’d love to see more of that.”

Clearwater Credit Union has been carbon neutral since 2020 by using carbon offsets like funding energy-efficiency upgrades for affordable housing projects in the area. Clearwater Credit Union is one of six financial institutions to have completed a Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials analysis on its own balance sheet. The analysis will be completed by the end of this week.

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