Boris Johnson: World has to act to stop destruction of our forests
David Attenborough delivers speech at COP26
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In the biggest global initiative against deforestation in a generation, they will join US President Joe Biden and other leaders in signing a landmark commitment to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. Governments and private-sector investors will promise almost £14billion to the effort to save and plant more trees. The Prime Minister is convening a special session of the COP26 United Nations climate change summit in Scotland to address the deforestation scourge.
Representatives from countries containing 85 percent of the world’s forests will back the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use.
Mr Johnson is expected to say: “These great teeming ecosystems – these cathedrals of nature – are the lungs of our planet.
“Forests support communities, livelihoods and food supply and absorb the carbon we pump into the atmosphere. They are essential to our very survival.
“With today’s unprecedented pledges, we will have a chance to end humanity’s long history as nature’s conqueror and instead become its custodian.”
Deforestation is a key contributor to climate change. Almost a quarter (23 percent) of global emissions come from land use activity, including clearing huge swathes of trees and farming.
UK Government officials say protecting forests and ending damaging land use is one of the most important issues to address to limit global warming.
It would also protect the lives and futures of 1.6 billion people – nearly 25 percent of the world’s population – who rely on them for their livelihoods.
Trees absorb an estimated one-third of the global CO2 released from burning fossil fuels every year. But figures show an areas of forest equivalent to the size of 27 football pitches is lost every minute.
Mr Johnson and leaders of 11 other countries will pledge a total of £8.75billion over the next four years to the initiative.
It will support developing countries, including restoring degraded land, tackling wildfires and supporting the rights of indigenous communities.
Private sector investors are expected to contribute a further £5.3billion at least.
And chief executives from more than 30 financial institutions with over $8.7trillion of global assets – including Aviva, Schroders and Axa – will also commit to eliminate investment in activities linked to deforestation.
Colombia President Ivan Duque said: “Colombia is proud to endorse a landmark commitment to end deforestation and all land degradation within the next decade. Never before have so many leaders, from all regions, representing all types of forests, joined forces in this way and Colombia is committed to playing its part.
“We will enshrine in law a commitment to net-zero deforestation by 2030, one of the most ambitious commitments in Latin America.
“And to protecting 30 percent of land and ocean resources by 2030.
“We must all work in partnership with businesses, the finance sector, smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples and communities to create the conditions for forest-positive economies to grow and thrive.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said: “Indonesia is blessed as the most carbon-rich country in the world on vast rainforests, mangroves, oceans and peatlands.
“We are committed to protecting these critical carbon sinks and our natural capital for future generations.” Mr Johnson will commit £1.5billion from UK taxpayers over five years to support the forests pledge, including £350million for tropical forests in Indonesia and £200million for the LEAF Coalition, an initiative to mobilise investment to protect rainforests.
The UK will also contribute £200million, alongside 11 other donors, as part of a new £1.1billion fund to protect the Congo Basin.
The area is home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world threatened by industrial logging, mining and agriculture.
Officials from nations representing 75 percent of global trade in commodities that threaten forests – including as palm oil, cocoa and soya – will also sign up to a Forests, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Statement.
The 28 governments will commit to a common set of actions to deliver sustainable trade and reduce pressure on forests, including support for smallholder farmers and improving the transparency of supply chains.
Norwegian premier Jonas Gahr Store said: “We must work for an improved global framework for climate investments.
“To ‘keep 1.5 degrees alive’ we have to halt forest loss this decade.”
Tuntiak Katan, coordinator of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, representing people from the rainforests of Africa, Latin America and Indonesia, said: “We welcome the announcement. We will be looking for concrete evidence of a transformation in the way funds are invested.”
Amanda Blanc, group chief executive of insurer Aviva, said: “Protecting forests and biodiversity is fundamental to the fight against climate change.
“Financial institutions have a pivotal role, using influence on the companies we invest in to encourage and ensure best practice.”
● An extra £3billion over the next five years has been pledged by Boris Johnson to help developing countries take advantage of the latest green technology.
The investment, from the UK overseas aid budget, will go towards an international “Clean Green Initiative”. The PM said: “No country should be left behind in the race to save our planet.”
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