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US government and companies reiterate commitment to forest and climate programs

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US government and companies reiterate commitment to forest and climate programs

December 02, 2015 - 15:56
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WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 1, 2015 (Press Release) -On December 1, at COP21 in Paris, France, leading companies announced that they intend to prioritize their sourcing of commodities in regions implementing large-scale forest and climate programs. The U.S. welcomes this innovative new approach from Marks Spencer and Unilever, and the expectation that other companies will join in this approach. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell attended the announcement in Paris and noted the importance of this public-private approach.

This move to source from jurisdictions combatting deforestation will bring together the power of global agricultural supply chains with strong government commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the announcement, areas with existing initiatives that meet certain criteria will be the first priority for supply chain sourcing, so long as quality and volume mandates can be fulfilled. The criteria include: a strategy to reduce emissions from forests and other lands; a system to measure and monitor net reductions in emissions; performance below an ambitious and decreasing emissions baseline; monitoring of social and environmental safeguards; stakeholder engagement; high-level political support; and a national U.N. Climate Change Convention contribution (INDC) that includes forests and land use.

Working with national and local governments sends a strong signal that reducing greenhouse gas emissions from forests and other landscapes will be a competitive advantage and a driver of economic development. This is a tangible demonstration that production and protection, economic development and climate change action, are mutually reinforcing. Partnerships between private companies and jurisdictions are critical for success.

In recent years, governments have come together around large programs that support jurisdictions) in developing and implementing plans to reduce emissions from forests (REDD+[1]) and other lands, and to measure and monitor their results. Together these programs mobilize several billion dollars of public sector finance to support developing countries in designing strategies, engaging stakeholders, building capacity, and monitoring results.

Meanwhile many companies have made commitments to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. This approach provides a concrete means to operationalizing those commitments, as well as a simple approach for companies seeking to make new commitments. Today’s announcement is an important initiative to align these public and private efforts as a way to more comprehensively prevent deforestation and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and forestry practices.

This announcement comes on the heels of the joint commitment made by the United States and 16 other countries [2] to re-affirm our ongoing support for continued strong action on forests and climate change. The United States continues to support forestry initiatives at home and abroad. Domestically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture Forestry strategy and the Administration’s Priority Agenda: Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources help ensure forests continue to sequester carbon emitted from other sources.

Globally, the United States promotes climate action in forests and other landscapes as one of three pillars of the Global Climate Change Initiative. Since 2010, the United States has dedicated more than $1.5 billion to Sustainable Landscapes programming.

With the November 30 joint statement, the participating nations committed to intensifying efforts to protect forests, to significantly restore degraded forest, peat and agricultural lands, and to promote low carbon rural development. We committed to collectively continue to support and implement at significant scale national REDD+ and sustainable land-use and climate change programs and, importantly, to generate and reward verified results.

[1] Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

[2] Countries include: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, United Kingdom, and the United States.