More than 100 world leaders late Monday pledged to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by the end of the decade, backed by $ 19 billion in public and private funds to invest in protecting and restoring land. forests.
The joint statement at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow was endorsed by the leaders of countries such as Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which collectively account for 85% of the world’s forests.
The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use will cover forests totaling more than 13 million square miles, according to a statement from the UK prime minister’s office on behalf of the leaders.
“We will have the opportunity to end humanity’s long history as the conqueror of nature and instead become its custodian,” said British leader Boris Johnson, calling it an unprecedented deal.
A number of additional government and private initiatives were launched on Tuesday to help achieve that goal, including billions in pledges for indigenous forest stewards and sustainable agriculture.
Forests absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the nonprofit World Resources Institute. Forests remove emissions from the atmosphere and prevent them from heating up the climate.
However, this natural weather buffer is rapidly disappearing. The world lost 258,000 square kilometers of forests in 2020, according to WRI Global Forest Watch’s deforestation monitoring initiative. That is an area larger than the UK.
Monday’s agreement vastly expands on a similar commitment made by 40 countries as part of the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests and goes further than ever in establishing the resources to achieve that goal.
Under the agreement, 12 countries, including the United Kingdom, have committed to providing 8.75 billion pounds ($ 12 billion) of public funds between 2021 and 2025 to assist developing countries, including in efforts to restore degraded lands and deal with forest fires.
More than 30 private sector investors, including Aviva, Schroders and AXA, would contribute at least £ 5.3bn more.
Investors, representing $ 8.7 trillion in assets under management, also pledged to stop investing in deforestation-related activities by 2025.
Five countries, including Britain and the United States, and a group of global charities on Tuesday also pledged to provide $ 1.7 billion in funding to support the conservation of indigenous peoples’ forests and strengthen their land rights.
Environmentalists say that indigenous communities are the forest’s best protectors, often against violent encroachment by loggers and land grabbers.
More than 30 financial institutions with more than $ 8.7 trillion in assets under management also said they would make “best efforts” to eliminate deforestation related to the production of livestock, palm oil, soybeans and pulp by 2025.
COP26 aims to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Scientists say forests and so-called nature-based solutions will be vital to achieving that goal.
Woodlands has removed about 760 million tons of carbon each year since 2011, offsetting about 8% of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and cement, according to the Biomass Carbon Monitor project backed by the data analysis firm. Kayrros and French research institutions.
“Our biosphere is really helping us rescue ourselves at the moment, but there is no guarantee that those processes will continue,” said Oliver Phillips, an ecologist at the University of Leeds in the UK.