Governments and business agree to end deforestation by 2030

25th September 2014

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Holly Bradley

A coalition of over 157 businesses, governments, campaign groups and representatives of indigenous peoples have pledged to halve deforestation by 2020 and eliminate it completely by 2030 at the UN climate summit.

Companies signing the pledge include food companies Cargill, Nestlé, and Grupo Bimbo; finance institutions Barclays and Trillium Asset Management; paper manufacturer Asia Pulp and Paper, and consumer goods companies P&G and Unilever.

Partners to the agreement, known as the New York declaration on forests, have also agreed to restore 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2020, and significantly increase the rate of global restoration to restore at least 200 million hectares by 2030.

Wilmar, Golden Agri-Resources and Cargill, which jointly make up more than half of global palm oil trade, committed to work together on implementation, and joined the Indonesian Business Council in asking the country’s incoming president Joko Widodo to support their efforts through legislation and policies.

The UK government, together with those in Germany and Norway, also announced that they would increase funding for forest protection.

They have pledged to finance up 20 new large-scale REDD+ emission reduction programmes, which aim to pay developing nations in return for not destroying forest.

REDD+ seeks to go beyond tackling deforestation and forest degradation, and include conservation, and the sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

The three governments also said they would partner with companies signing up to deforestation-free supply chains, for example, by supporting them through public sector procurement policies.

Brazil did not sign up to the declaration, but three of its regional governments – Acre, Amapa and Amazonas – agreed to participate.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon said: “The New York declaration aims to reduce more climate pollution each year than the US emits annually, and it doesn’t stop there.

"Forests are not only a critical part of the climate solution – the actions agreed will reduce poverty, enhance food security, improve the rule of law, secure the rights of indigenous peoples and benefit communities around the world.”

The declaration was one of many initiatives and collaborations announced at the summit.

Seventy-three national and 11 regional governments, which together are responsible for 54% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, and more than 1,000 companies and investor groups, including LG Electronics and Shell, expressed support for putting a price on carbon.

The summit was convened by Ban Ki-Moon to garner political support for a global agreement on climate change ahead of the next UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCC) meeting in Lima, Peru, in December.

Leaders from more than 120 countries were invited to announce pledges and support for a global agreement at the meeting. Environmental campaign groups and renewable energy bodies criticised David Cameron, for saying that shale gas was “low-carbon energy”.

The UK prime-minister also said that the business community required certainty to invest in low carbon, including “fighting against the economically and environmentally perverse fossil fuel subsidies which distort free markets and rip off taxpayers.”

He reiterated the UK’s position to not build any new coal plants without carbon capture and storage. However, a pledge to phase out existing coal plants over the next 10–15 years, which had earlier been tweeted by the UK’s official Twitter feed on the UN summit, was not mentioned by Cameron in his speech.

A spokesman for Decc said that the tweet referred to the fact that unabated coal will play an increasingly smaller part in the UK’s energy mix as coal plants close due to environmental regulation. “By 2025 only 5% of electricity will come from unabated coal. This is not new policy,” he said.

Meanwhile, a number of countries, including France, Denmark, Norway and South Korea, announced funding pledges totaling $2.3 billion for the green climate fund. France committed $1 billion to the fund, which will support developing nations in adapting to climate change.

The $2.3 billion is, however, well short of the $10 billion that world leaders signed up to provide when the fund was established in 2010.

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