COP26: Countries pledge to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Richard Drury
© GettyImages/Richard Drury

Related tags deforestation Soy Palm oil

The promise, made in a joint statement issued late on Monday at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, was backed by the leaders of countries including Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Together, those countries contain 85% of the world’s forests, an area of 33 million square kilometers (13 million square miles), according to a statement from the British prime minister’s office on behalf of the leaders.

It is the first major deal from the climate talks, which is set to run for the next two weeks.

UK PM, Boris Johnson, expressed optimism: “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.”

Public and private funding 

The commitment is supported by a pledge to provide £8.75bn ($12bn) of public finance from 12 countries, including the UK, from 2021 – 2025. This capital will be deployed for activities in developing countries, including restoring degraded land, tackling wildfires and supporting the rights of indigenous communities.

Those funds will go alongside at least £5.3bn ($7.2bn) of newly-mobilized private sector funding.

CEOs from more than 30 financial institutions with over $8.7tn of global assets – including Aviva, Schroders and Axa – have also committed to eliminate investment in activities linked to agricultural commodity driven deforestation.

Amanda Blanc, Group CEO Aviva plc, said: “Protecting our forests and their biodiversity is fundamental to the fight against climate change. Financial institutions have a pivotal role, using our influence on the companies we invest in to encourage and ensure best practice.”

28 governments, representing 75% of global trade in key commodities that can threaten forests, have signed up to a new Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Statement. This statement is part of a Roadmap of actions designed to deliver sustainable trade and reduce pressure on forests, including support for smallholder farmers and improving the transparency of supply chains.

In addition, 10 of the largest companies managing over half of global trade in key forest-risk commodities such as palm oil and soy have announced that by COP27 they will lay out a shared roadmap for enhanced supply chain action consistent with a 1.5 degree Celsius pathway.

Commitments are 'not binding'

But Greenpeace slammed the announcement as a green light for another decade of forest destruction.

Carolina Pasquali, executive director, Greenpeace Brazil. said:

“There’s a very good reason Bolsonaro felt comfortable signing on to this new deal. It allows another decade of forest destruction and isn’t binding. Meanwhile the Amazon is already on the brink and can’t survive years more deforestation. Indigenous Peoples are calling for 80% of the Amazon to be protected by 2025, and they’re right, that’s what’s needed. The climate and the natural world can’t afford this deal.”

“The ‘new’ deal in effect replaces the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests (although Brazil didn’t sign up then). The 2014 declaration included a commitment that governments halve forest loss by 2020 and support the corporate sector to end deforestation in supply chains by 2020 – and yet the rate of natural forest loss has dramatically increased in recent years. The new announcements on supply chains today appear to lack teeth and are unlikely to reverse the years of corporate failure on this issue.”

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