More than 100 world leaders will sign up to a landmark agreement to protect and restore earth’s forests, the UK Government has said.
On the second day of the COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow on Tuesday, leaders said covering 85 per cent of the world’s forests would halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030.
Downing Street said the pledges were backed by 8.75 billion pounds of public funding with further 5.3 billion pounds in private investment.
The commitment, to be formally announced at an event convened by Boris Johnson, has been welcomed by campaigners and experts, particularly in recognition of the role of indigenous peoples in protecting forests.
However, there are charges that commitments need to be delivered on, while standing forests must be protected.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed the move, saying it would support the COP26 goal of restricting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius through absorption of carbon emissions by forests.
“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.’’
The land covered by the agreement spans the northern forests of Canada and Russia to the tropical rain forests of Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – an area more than 13 million square miles.
The UK was committing 1.5 billion pounds over five years to support the forests pledge, including 350 million pounds for tropical forests in Indonesia and 200 million pounds for the Leaf Coalition.
Britain is also contributing 200 million pounds to a new 1.1 billion-pound international fund to protect the Congo Basin.
Simon Lewis, a Professor of Global Change Science at University College, London, said tackling deforestation was an essential component of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“It is good news to have a political commitment to end deforestation from so many countries, and significant funding to move forward on that journey,’’ he said.
He added that it was particularly welcome that indigenous peoples were being acknowledged as key protectors of forests.
“However, the real challenge is not in making the announcements but in delivering synergistic and interlocking policies and actions that really do drive down deforestation globally.
“Careful monitoring of the delivery of each initiative is essential for success,’’ he said.
Roberto Waack, Brazilian business leader, biologist and Visiting Fellow at International Affairs Think Tank, Chatham House, said: “The deal is a significant milestone on the road to protecting our precious forests and tackling climate crisis.
“The deal combines action to stop deforestation with support for indigenous peoples who are the forest’s staunchest defenders.
“Today we celebrate tomorrow, we will start pressing for the deal to be delivered,’’ Waack added. (dpa/NAN)