Countries including Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will sign the historic pledge, the first major deal from the summit
Over 100 countries that are representing 85% of the world’s forests will commit to stopping and reversing deforestation by the year 2030 in a “significant breakthrough” on the road to tackling the global climate crisis.
Countries including Brazil, Russia, Canada, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be signing the pledge on Tuesday, which is backed by £14bn ($19.2bn) in both public and private funding.
Environment Secretary George Eustice hailed the pledge as a “major step forward” and told Sky News the deforestation deal offered greater hope of the two-week COP26 summit ending in wider action by nations.
Previously, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other cabinet ministers had been downbeat about the chances of the Glasgow conference ending with substantial action.
But speaking to Sky News on the second day of COP26, Mr Eustice said: “I think it’s a really encouraging sign that this early on… actually many of those countries have come forward and said ‘we’re up for doing this’.”
He added: “If this continues then it will bode well for the rest of COP over the next couple of weeks.”
The prime minister has been hoping the summit would deliver on priority areas he sees as “coal, cash, cars and trees,” so this pledge will tick the trees box.
This comes after Ryanair has said that its recovery in passenger numbers “will require continuing price stimulation” while it revealed its improved losses. The Irish airline Ryanair predicts a “tough” winter ahead as it sees little visibility on demand and costs of fuel continue to surge despite a reopening of COVID-hit Europe.
But the government as host has set the conference’s aim to “keep 1.5 degrees alive” and there is still a long way to go on a deal to make the necessary emissions cuts.
Announcing the “landmark agreement” on forests at COP26 on Tuesday, Mr Johnson will say: “These great teeming ecosystems… are the lungs of our planet [and] … 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.”
Forests play an essential role in fighting against climate crisis, absorbing vast amounts of planet-heating carbon dioxide from the air, and providing food, jobs and homes.
But campaigners say that they are being lost at an alarming rate of one football pitch every two seconds through activities such as commodities, agriculture, urbanisation, wildfire and the forestry industry.
Highlights from the opening of the summit:
- India’s prime minister pledged net-zero by 2070 – 20 years after the key 2050 date
- Boris Johnson compared the crisis to James Bond strapped to a doomsday device
- Failure at COP would be a “death sentence”, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned
- President Biden told delegates “this is the decade that will determine the answer” on climate change
- Greta Thunberg joined activists near the venue and dismissed leaders’ words as “blah, blah, blah”
The new money behind the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on both Forests and Land Use will help to restore degraded land, tackle wildfires and support the rights of indigenous communities globally.
Many had welcomed the acknowledgement of indigenous peoples as crucial guardians of the world’s forests.
Tuntiak Katan, the coordinator of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, representing communities from the rainforests of Africa, Latin America and Indonesia, said that the announcement raised the visibility of indigenous peoples and local communities as a climate solution to an “unprecedented level”.
Roberto Waack, a Brazilian business leader and biologist, as well as a Chatham House visiting fellow, called the deal a “significant milestone”.
“Today we celebrate – tomorrow we will start pressing for the deal to be delivered,” he said.
CEOs from more than 30 financial institutions will also promise to stop investing in activities linked to deforestation.
The New York Declaration on Forests, signed in 2014, the last similar pledge promised to halve tropical deforestation and restore 150 million hectares of land by 2020
However, most countries did not follow through, and since then tropical primary forest loss has generally increased, according to a progress report published in October.
To harness the potential of forests to help the world meet the Paris temperature goal, dramatic shifts in food production, agriculture and land use will be needed.
This comes after the BBC understands that the remaining seven countries on England’s Covid travel red list are set to be removed. Passengers arriving from red list countries such as Colombia, Peru, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Venezuela and Ecuador will soon no longer have to quarantine in a hotel at their cost for 10 full days.
This is the first major announcement unveiled at the UN climate talks, which aim to “keep alive” the Paris Agreement target of limiting warming to 1.5C. Another is expected soon on cutting methane, a climate-heating gas.
On day one of the talks, global voices warned that failure would mean a “death sentence” for many vulnerable countries.
World leaders delivered statements on their own plans to meet the Paris Agreement, with further speeches expected on Tuesday from the leaders of Pakistan, Argentina, Colombia and Japan.
They will provide the tone and guidance for the negotiators seeking to thrash out deals in the rest of the two-week summit.
In his speech on Monday, President Biden said that those “responsible for much of the deforestation and all of the problems we have so far” have “overwhelming obligations” to the poorer nations of the world that account for few of the emissions yet are paying a price as the planet is continuing to grow hotter.
Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, said that his country would aim to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by 2070, two decades after both the US and the UK, and at least 10 years later than China.