In a declaration at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the leaders of more than 100 nations agreed to work “collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.”
The countries included the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Nigeria and Peru.
For its part, the United States launched two initiatives to help achieve these goals.
“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, announcing the United States’ commitment.
Each year, forests absorb one-third of the carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels around the world, making them the Earth’s lungs and one of the most powerful tools to combat the climate crisis.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, roughly 2 billion hectares of land around the world — an area the size of South America — have the potential to be restored to their full health and act as carbon sinks, which are natural areas that absorb carbon.
📢 NEWS: At COP26, over 100 leaders have committed to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
“To have any chance of keeping below 1.5°C of global warming, we must halt deforestation” — Sir David Attenborough
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— COP26 (@COP26) November 2, 2021
As part of the declaration, the United States launched the Forest Investor Club — a group of public and private financial institutions that will invest in sustainable, climate-friendly initiatives in the land sector.
Nearly 20 organizations have signed on as founding members, including Apple, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and The Nature Conservancy.
The United States also launched the Forest Finance Risk Consortium. This group will bring together financial institutions and forest-monitoring experts to find forest-related emissions in investment portfolios.
Addressing the connection between financial investments and deforestation is critical for reducing carbon emissions that prevent the world from achieving net-zero and staying under the 1.5 Celsius cap, the State Department announcement explained.
“The United States is going to lead by our example at home and support other forested nations and developing countries in setting and achieving ambitious action to conserve and restore these carbon sinks,” Biden concluded.