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COP summit agrees landmark deal on deforestation

COP summit agrees landmark deal on deforestation

Leaders at the COP26 summit in Glasgow are set to back a pledge to end and reverse deforestation by 2030.

It’s the first major agreement to come out of the climate change conference, and, crucially, will be signed by some of the major producers and consumers of deforestation-linked commodities including Indonesia, China, Brazil and the US.

Boris Johnson is expected to call the deal a "landmark agreement to protect and restore the Earth's forests".

"These great teeming ecosystems - these cathedrals of nature - are the lungs of our planet," he will say.

The pledge includes almost £14bn ($19.2bn) of public and private funds, some of which will go to developing countries to restore damaged land, tackle wildfires and support indigenous communities, who have been shown, by a number of studies, to be the best custodians of forests. 

Another £1.1bn will be used to protect the world's second largest tropical rainforest in the Congo Basin.

The agreement includes committing signatories to removing deforestation from the global trade of food and other agricultural products such as soya, cocoa, and palm oil, a product in huge demand, found in everything from pizza, doughnuts and chocolate, to deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and lipstick. 

It’ll also be backed by more than 30 of the world's biggest companies.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, was cautious about the agreement: “Everyone wants to see zero deforestation, not least the indigenous peoples whose homes and livelihoods are under threat. But without tackling the drivers of destruction it’s like whistling in the wind to think cash alone will work. Cattle and soya for animal feed are wiping out the Amazon and savannahs of Brazil. The industrial meat industry, like its counterpart in the fossil fuel sector, needs to come to an end.”

He added: “Every climate scientist is saying we need to eat less meat. We won’t save the forests until politicians stop ignoring that message.”

Meanwhile, Joe Biden is set to announce an action plan to limit global methane emissions by 30 per cent from 2020 levels by the end of the decade.

The US president has agreed the plan with another 90 countries, including half of the top 30 major methane emitter countries. China, India and Russia have not signed up. 

Last night saw the world leaders gather in Glasgow's Kelvingrove art gallery and museum for what was billed as a VVIP reception. 

The Queen, who has been unable to make the conference because of poor health, sent a video message, urging the presidents and prime ministers to"rise above the politics of the moment, and achieve true statesmanship."

It was an unusually personal and poignant message from the elderly monarch.

She said: "For more than 70 years, I have been lucky to meet and to know many of the world's great leaders.

"And I have perhaps come to understand a little about what made them special.

"It has sometimes been observed that what leaders do for their people today is government and politics. But what they do for the people of tomorrow - that is statesmanship.

"I, for one, hope that this conference will be one of those rare occasions where everyone will have the chance to rise above the politics of the moment, and achieve true statesmanship."

She said: "Of course, the benefits of such actions will not be there to enjoy for all of us here today: none of us will live forever. But we are doing this not for ourselves, but for our children and our children's children, and those who will follow in their footsteps."

The 95-year-old Queen also paid tribute to her own family's commitment to the environment, starting with her late husband, Prince Philip.

She said: "I remember well that in 1969, he told an academic gathering 'if the world pollution situation is not critical at the moment, it is as certain as anything can be, that the situation will become increasingly intolerable within a very short time... If we fail to cope with this challenge, all the other problems will pale into insignificance'.

"It is a source of great pride to me that the leading role my husband played in encouraging people to protect our fragile planet, lives on through the work of our eldest son Charles and his eldest son, William. I could not be more proud of them."

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