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World leaders unveil pledges to end deforestation, slash methane emissions: Cop latest

Some of the multi-billion dollar funding agreed alongside the forest declaration at Glasgow will go towards protecting Indonesia's tropical forests, huge areas of which have been cleared for palm plantations. (Credit: Keystone/EPA/Hotli Simanuntak)

More than 100 world leaders have signed a pact to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation over the next decade, as part of the latest raft of deals announced on Tuesday in Glasgow to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming. Here’s your latest roundup on what’s been announced on the second official day of Cop26.

A multi-billion dollar package to end deforestation

Brazil, the United States, Russia and Canada and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – the custodians of some of the world’s largest forest areas  – were among the countries to sign the declaration committing to protecting forests and putting a stop to the damaging use of land.

Among some of the main highlights of the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use:

  • A £14 billion package of public and private-sector funding that will go toward helping developing countries restore degraded land, tackle wildfires and support the rights of indigenous communities.

  • Around £1.25 billion will be given directly to indigenous peoples and local communities in recognition of their key roles.

Speaking at the summit, the Prince of Wales said safeguarding the rights of indigenous people and local communities who depend on the forests for their lives and livelihoods, was a real matter of priority. He also stressed that they have protected forests for generations and the world needs to listen to them:

“The virtuous circle of nature is something the world’s indigenous people hold sacred and understand only too well...By contrast  we seem to have lost that vital sixth sense that should have prevented us from abusing nature in the first place.”

  • A new £1.1bn fund will be created to protect the Congo Basin, home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world and threatened by industrial logging, mining and agriculture.

  • Governments representing 75 per cent of global trade in commodities like soy, cocoa and palm oil, which cause high rates of deforestation and carbon emissions, will also agree to a set of measures on sustainable trade.

  • Over 30 financial institutions including Aviva, Schroders and Axa are also getting on board and have promised to end investment in activities linked to deforestation.

Speaking at the event, Boris Johnson said: “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.”

Nearly 90 countries join global pledge to slash methane emissions

More countries have joined a pledge launched by the US and the European Union in September to cut global methane emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030 from 2020 levels.

Methane, is the second-biggest driver of global warming after carbon dioxide emisions. The bulk is produced by agriculture, waste disposal, natural gas and fossil fuel production.

It is 80 times potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period but breaks down in the atmosphere faster and is therefore considered one of the most effective ways to limit global warming in the near term.

Delivering on the Global Methane Pledge would reduce warming by at least 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050, the Biden administration said in a statement.

The announcement comes after a global watchdog to monitor methane commitments made by countries was launched on Monday.

Countries representing 70 per cent of the global economy and nearly half of anthropogenic methane emissions have now signed onto the pledge. China, India and Russia have not.

The World Resources Insitute’s Helen Mountford, vice president of Climate and Economics, said:

“Cutting methane emissions is essential to keep global warming from breaching 1.5C.  This pledge from 90 countries to cut methane emissions by at least 30 per cent over the coming decade sets a strong floor in terms of the ambition we need globally.”

Three initiatives tap into private sector finance

Eight financial institutions and agribusiness companies have pledged to spend $3 billion on producing soy and cattle in South America in a way that doesn’t lead to deforestation and land clearing.

The Innovative Finance for the Amazon, Cerrado and Chaco (IFACC) initiative, backed by companies including Syngenta, DuAgro and JGP Asset Management, wants to reach $10bn of commitments by 2025.

It’s one of three separate initiatives launched at Cop on Tuesday aimed at scaling up private sector investment in nature and forests.  The US announced the Forest Investor Club, a platform aimed at connecting public and private sector institutions and encouraging them to come up with new investment ideas.

The Natural Capital Investment Alliance (“NCIA”), founded by HRH the Prince of Wales last year,  also announced plans to shift $10bn in private capital by the end of 2022 into businesses that are helping to reduce pressure on forestry, biodiversity and ecosystems.

Read also: Prince Charles launches natural capital alliance

Meanwhile on the streets in Glasgow…

The summit suffered a second day of queues, with those trying to get into the conference venue having to wait outside for more than an hour. Each person attending has to show proof of a negative coronavirus test and their accreditation, leading up to a build-up of attendees outside.

Downtown in the Scottish capital, over 200 Extinction Rebellion protesters headed for the offices of investment bank JP Morgan. They want the bank to stop funding fossil fuel projects.

UNICEF: children left out of government climate goals

Children and young people are still sorely lacking from the climate plans set out by countries, analysis by the UN Children’s Fund released today found.

Speaking at a press briefing at the UN in Geneva, Gautam Narasimhan, UNICEF’s global lead for climate, energy and environment, said that of the 103 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) updated by countries ahead of Cop, only 35 of them – about one-third – were considered to be child-sensitive.

"Countries are saying the right things about considering and including children but their climate plans leave their promises hollow. Children and young people bring energy, leadership and ideas to the table and yet leaders continue to pay lip service to their demands.”

Only one in five of the plans reference child rights or intergenerational justice and equity in a meaningful way, the analysis showed, while only some 12 per cent of countries report that children participated in the development of the plan.

Countries unveil plan to make green tech cheaper

The UK, US, India, Australia and China were among the 40 countries to announce a global plan to speed up the delivery of clean and affordable technologies in the most polluting sectors by 2030.

Unveiling the Breakthrough Agenda on Tuesday at Cop, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the first five areas in which they will aim to ramp up clean technologies will be in agriculture, hydrogen, steel, transport and power.

“By making clean technology the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice, the default go-to in what are currently the most polluting sectors, we can cut emissions right around the world,” Johnson said.

Under the agreement, countries will work together on initiatives to grow green industries and make them more accessible and cheaper than their fossil fuel alternatives. This includes, for example, collaborating on research and development, aligning policies and standards, and coordinating public investments.

The aim is to create 20 million new jobs globally and add over $16 trillion across both emerging and advanced economies.

At least five other initiatives were launched alongside the Breathrough Agenda, including the UK-India led Green Grids Initiative, endorsed by 80 countries and focused on integrating solar and wind power into networks.

Climate vulnerable countries: we want climate finance

A coalition of 48 countries from countries most vulnerable to climate change on Tuesday demanded stronger commitments on financial support from rich nations.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) ask for $500bn of climate finance to be delivered between 2020 and 2024, among other proposals including yearly updates to national plans to slash carbon emissions. Read our full story here.