Ambitious plan to end forest loss announced at UN Climate Summit : TreeHugger

A palm oil plantation in Indonesia.

CC BY 2.0 Achmad Rabin Taim. A palm oil plantation in Indonesia.

A new partnership between governments, businesses and indigenous leaders aiming to reduce forest loss was announced at today’s UN Climate Summit in New York City. The “New York Declaration on Forests” aims to cut the rate of forest loss in half by 2020 and end deforestation by 2030.

The ambition of this plan matches the importance of protecting forests, which is an important factor in curbing carbon emissions. Forest clearing is estimated to be responsible for emitting over 4.5 billion tons of carbon every year. Stopping deforestation has emerged as a particularly cost-effective means of reducing emissions.

Protecting forests is also an important human rights issue for the indigenous peoples who live in them and depend on them for their livelihoods. A recent report from the World Resources Institute showed that legally recognized forest communities are effective at preventing deforestation.

“That’s why we have any natural forest left at all on the planet. If you map where indigenous people live and where we have intact forests, there’s an amazing overlap there,” Charles Ian McNeill, a senior policy advisor for the United Nations Development Program, told TreeHugger. “That’s not a coincidence.”

A coalition of indigenous leaders from Asia, Africa, Central America and the Amazon Basin pledged to protect the over 400 million hectares of tropical forests under their jurisdiction, a carbon sink worth over 70 gigatons. Peru, Chile, Indonesia, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are among the 31 countries endorsing the declaration.

Yet in far too many parts of the world, the rights of indigenous people go unrecognized. As part of today’s announcement, a number of donor countries made resources available to help forest communities. Norway has pledged $100 million towards indigenous peoples, as part of a $3 billion commitment towards climate and forest purposes. Other donor countries include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Japan.

Just as importantly, a significant number of companies also support to the agreement, which means eliminating products associated with deforestation from their supply chains by 2020. Some companies have set their targets even sooner, like Unilever’s promise to be deforestation-free by 2015.

“Business will be increasingly held to a higher level of accountability,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman yesterday at an event held by the Climate and Land Use Alliance. “I’m encouraged by the number of companies who are signing up.”

Also committing to clean up their supply chains are Cargill, Wilmar and Golden Agri-Resources, three of the largest palm oil producers—a commodity that has been closely associated with deforestation. About 60 percent of palm oil production is now managed by companies that have made commitments to providing deforestation-free commodities by 2020. This is a major change, as little more than a year ago no such commitments had been made.

McNeill said that UN agencies have plans in place to follow up on private sector commitments after one year. “The whole world is watching now. We hear you, we appreciate this commitment,” he said. “But the bulk of it is still to come and we’ll be watching.”

Ambitious plan to end forest loss announced at UN Climate Summit : TreeHugger.

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Hundreds Of Thousands Turn Out For People’s Climate March In New York City

Yesterday I marched with more than 400,000 people to demonstrate to world leaders that it is time for a multilateral treaty to reduce carbon emissions as they prepare to gather at the UN’s Climate Summit. Mitigating and adapting to climate change have to become priorities for the entire world, and collaboration and cooperation are the only ways forward. We successfully reduced the damage being done to our ozone layer due to the manufacture of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) because of an agreement known as the Montreal Protocol, so there is precedent for a worldwide effort to prevent global catastrophe. We are capable of doing so much more than we have been doing, and to be a part of this demonstration was heartening and inspiring. One of the things I noticed was how squeaky clean the streets were. Central Park West, down West 59th Street to Avenue of the Americas, down to 42nd Street, there was no litter to be seen. These people care! I only point this out because as a New York City resident, even a four hour street festival, through which maybe 1,000 people pass, generates enormous piles of trash, not only in the waste receptacles but in the gutters and on the street and sidewalks! I am consistently appalled at these sights, so to have 400 times as many people, for a day-long event, and to have a 100 times cleaner result is truly remarkable. Congratulations to everyone who participated! The article below speaks to the magnitude and significance of our accomplishment. Let’s continue to march forward in our quest for a global commitment to reduce the harmful effects of climate change.

NEW YORK — More than 400,000 people turned out for the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, just days before many of the world’s leaders are expected to debate environmental action at the United Nations climate summit.

Early reports from event organizers are hailing the turnout as the largest climate march in history, far bigger than the Forward on Climate rally held in Washington, D.C., last year. High-profile environmentalists including Bill McKibben, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva marched alongside policymakers such as Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Vice President Al Gore were also there, and more than 550 buses carried in people from around the country.

The rally comes at an opportune time as 120 world leaders, including President Barack Obama, are expected to convene Tuesday at the United Nations in New York to discuss ways to tackle the growing threat of carbon pollution.

The White House has pledged to “show the world that the U.S. is leading on climate change, and to call on other leaders to step up to the plate,” John Podesta, who serves as a counselor to the president, told reporters on Thursday. However, a recent study found that the world spewed more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere last year than ever before, primarily driven by China, India and the United States. And the top leaders of China and India announced earlier this month that they won’t be attending Tuesday’s summit.

The march began around 11:30 a.m., at New York City’s Columbus Circle just off Central Park. At times, it stretched more than 4 miles as marchers carried banners, signs and entire contraptions depicting everything from Mother Earth herself to the dinosaurs that now make up fossil fuels.

peoples climate march
Demonstrators make their way down Sixth Avenue in New York during the People’s Climate March on Sunday.

“Today I march because I want to behold a brighter future. We have destroyed ourselves. We have destroyed our health and I’m here because our political leaders have failed us,” Stanley Sturgill, a retired coal miner from Kentucky now suffering from black lung, said at a press conference before the march. “We know together we can build our bright future.”

More than 1,500 groups filled Central Park West before the march. They represented a variety of interests, including the scientific community and religious organizations. More than 50,000 students were there because they were worried about their future, while grandparents came out of concern for their legacy.

“We need to act now … We only have one atmosphere and we of the Marshall Islands only have one land to call ‘home,'” Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a young mother from the island nation, said before the march. “We don’t want to move and we shouldn’t have to move.”

Hundreds Of Thousands Turn Out For People’s Climate March In New York City.