More than 100 world leaders promise to end deforestation

More than 100 global leaders have pledged to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by the end of the decade, underpinned by $19 billion US in public and private funds to invest in protecting and restoring forests.

The plan comes with $19B US, including $1.7B for Indigenous Peoples

Biden announces plan to conserve and restore global forests

2 years ago
Duration 1:06
U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged up to $9 billion to a fund that will help halt the loss — and restore millions of hectares — of forests around the world to help reduce carbon in the atmosphere. (Eric Schaff/The Associated Press)

Our planet is changing. So is our journalism. This story is part of a CBC News initiative entitled Our Changing Planet to show and explain the effects of climate change and what is being done about it.

More than 100 global leaders late on Monday pledged to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by the end of the decade, underpinned by $19 billion US in public and private funds to invest in protecting and restoring forests.

The joint statement at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow was backed by the leaders of countries that collectively account for 85 per cent of the world's forests. Those countries supporting the plan included Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the United States.

The Conference of Parties (COP) meets every year and is the global decision-making body set up in the early 1990s to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and subsequent climate agreements.

Burning forest is seen in 2017 during a project by Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, or Ibama, to combat illegal logging in Apui, Brazil. More than 100 world leaders pledged Monday to end deforestation by the end of the decade. (Bruno Kelly/Reuters)
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The new Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forest and Land Use will cover forests totalling more than 33.6 million square kilometres, according to a statement from the U.K. prime minister's office on behalf of the leaders.

"We will have a chance to end humanity's long history as nature's conqueror, and instead become its custodian," said British leader Boris Johnson, calling it an unprecedented agreement.

WATCH | Gabon seeks sustainable path as it cuts part of vast forest

Gabon seeks sustainable path as it cuts part of vast forest

2 years ago
Duration 1:45
The west African nation of Gabon is trying to wean itself off oil revenue and maintain the bulk of its gigantic forest with judicious cutting of old growth trees and the creation of local jobs. (Chistophe Van Der Perre/Reuters)

$1.7B for Indigenous Peoples

Five countries, including Britain and the United States, and a group of global charities also pledged to provide $1.7 billion in financing to support Indigenous Peoples' conservation of forests and to strengthen their land rights. They did not specify which communities would get the funding.

Environmentalists say that Indigenous communities are the best protectors of the forest, often against violent encroachment of loggers and land grabbers.

Forests absorb roughly 30 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the nonprofit World Resources Institute. The forests take the emissions out of the atmosphere and prevent them from warming the climate.

Yet this natural climate buffer is rapidly disappearing. The world lost 258,000 square kilometres of forest in 2020, according to WRI's deforestation tracking initiative Global Forest Watch. That is an area larger than the United Kingdom.

WATCH | Climate change a doomsday device, Boris Johnson says

Climate change a doomsday device, Boris Johnson says

2 years ago
Duration 3:22
'If we don't get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow,' said U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the opening of COP26 in Glasgow. He compared climate change to a doomsday device, saying it's one minute to midnight. (Credit: pool via Reuters/Jeff J Mitchell)

Monday's agreement vastly expands a similar commitment made by 40 countries as part of the 2014 New York Declaration of Forests and goes further than ever before in laying out the resources to reach that goal.

Under the agreement, 12 countries including Britain have pledged to provide $12 billion US of public funding between 2021 and 2025 to help developing countries, including in efforts to restore degraded land and tackle wildfires.

At least a further $7.2 billion would be provided by more than 30 private sector investors including Aviva, Schroders and AXA. The investors, representing $8.7 trillion in assets under management, also pledged to stop investing in activities linked to deforestation by 2025.

COP26 aims to keep alive a target of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Scientists say forests and so-called nature-based solutions will be vital to reaching that goal.

With files from The Associated Press and CBC News