The UK, Norway and the United States said Thursday they would partner with some of the world’s largest companies to raise more than $ 1 billion for countries that can show they are reducing emissions by protecting tropical forests.
The aim is to make intact forests more economically valuable than if the land were cleared for wood and agriculture.
The initiative comes from the fact that the world is losing acre after acre of forests in order to meet the global demand for soy, palm oil, wood and cattle. These forests, from Brazil to Indonesia, are essential to contain the associated crises of climate change and global biodiversity collapse. They are also home to indigenous and other forest communities.
Amazon, Nestlé, Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline and Salesforce are among the companies pledging money for the new initiative known as the LEAF Coalition.
Last year, deforestation in the tropics increased by 12 percent compared to 2019, despite the global downturn triggered by the pandemic, and wiped out an area the size of Switzerland. This destruction released about twice as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as automobiles in the United States emit annually.
“The LEAF coalition is a groundbreaking example of the scale and type of collaboration needed to tackle the climate crisis and achieve net zero global emissions by 2050,” said John Kerry, Senior Bimate Envoy for President Biden , in a statement. “Bringing together government and private resources is a necessary step to support the large-scale efforts that need to be mobilized to halt deforestation and restore tropical and subtropical forests.”
An existing global effort called REDD + struggled to attract sufficient investment and slowed down bureaucratically. This initiative builds on this and brings private capital to the table at the state or state level.
Up until now, companies have invested more informally in forests, sometimes supporting questionable projects that have led to allegations of corruption and “greenwashing” when a company or brand presents itself as an environmentally responsible person but its actual actions do not support the allegation.
The new initiative will use satellite imagery to check the results across wide areas and avoid these problems. Monitoring entire jurisdictions would theoretically prevent governments from saving forest areas in one place only to have them cut down elsewhere.
Under the plan, countries, states or provinces with tropical forests would commit to reducing deforestation and degradation. Every year or every other year, they presented their results and calculated the number of tons of carbon dioxide their efforts reduced. An independent monitor would use satellite imagery and other measures to verify their claims. Businesses and governments would contribute to a pool of money that would pay the national or regional government at least $ 10 per ton of reduced carbon dioxide.
According to Nigel Purvis, managing director of Climate Advisers, a group affiliated with the initiative, companies are only allowed to participate if they have a scientifically based plan to achieve net zero emissions.
“Your greatest commitment to the world from a climatic perspective is to reduce your own emissions in their supply chains, in their products, and in everything,” said Purvis. He also stressed that the coalition’s plans would respect the rights of indigenous and forest communities.