Maintaining the world’s forests is crucial to the global effort to mitigate climate change. Every year, forests capture and store some 15 percent of global emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
“If we all work together to make sure these precious resources are conserved … forests have the potential to reduce carbon globally by more than one third,” said President Joe Biden at the UN Climate Change Conference “Action on Forests and Land-Use” event.
“Conserving our forests and other critical ecosystems is … an indispensable piece of keeping our climate goals within reach as well as many other key priorities that we have together: ensuring clean water, maintaining biodiversity, supporting rural and Indigenous communities, and reducing the risk of the spread of disease.”
It therefore makes sense that the first major agreement to be signed at the Climate Change Conference, dealt with conservation of the world’s forests. Some 100 world leaders, including the United States, Brazil, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Russia, and the United Kingdom, committed to ending and reversing deforestation by 2030. The signatories contain 85 percent of the world’s forests.
Donors also pledged some 19 billion dollars in private and public funds for forest conservation efforts, while 28 countries committed to ensuring that trade in globally important commodities such as palm oil, cocoa and soy, does not contribute to deforestation.
At the same time, President Joe Biden unveiled a new, whole-of-government plan to conserve and restore forests and other critical ecosystems around the world. “The United States will help the world deliver on our shared goal of halting natural forest loss and restoring at least an additional 200 million hectares of forests and other ecosystems by the year 2030,” said President Biden.
“We’re going to work to ensure markets recognize the true economic value of natural carbon sinks and motivate governments, landowners, and stakeholders to prioritize conservation. We’ll work to align the private sector investment flows … and conservation goals, including reducing the drivers of deforestation, creating sustainable supply chains, pursuing more sustainable commodity sourcing.”
“Preserving forests and other ecosystems can and should play an important role in meeting our ambitious climate goals as part of the net-zero emissions strategy we all have,” said President Biden. “I’m confident we can do this. All we need to do is summon the will to do what we know is right and we know is necessary and we know is within our capacity.”