India stays off UK-led deforestation declaration at the COP26 summit

Glasgow: India is among the countries that have chosen not to sign up to a Leaders’ Declaration on ending deforestation by 2030 at the COP26 climate summit on Tuesday, which is signed by over 100 countries including China and Brazil.

The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use commits the signatories to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation, backed by almost 14 billion pounds in public and private funding.

According to official sources, India had some concerns around linkages made in the final text with trade.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who formally launched the declaration on Tuesday, termed it 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. Forests support communities, livelihoods and food supply, and absorb the carbon we pump into the atmosphere. They are essential to our very survival, said Johnson.

With today’s unprecedented pledges, we will have a chance to end humanity’s long history as nature’s conqueror, and instead become its custodian, he said.

The text of the final declaration covers transformative action in the interconnected areas of sustainable production and consumption; infrastructure development; trade; finance and investment; and support for smallholders and local communities.

We will strengthen our shared efforts to facilitate trade and development policies, internationally and domestically, that promote sustainable development, and sustainable commodity production and consumption, that work to countries’ mutual benefit, and that do not drive deforestation and land degradation, the text notes in reference to trade which is likely to have caused some concern on the Indian side.

The declaration will be supported by a pledge to provide 8.75 billion pounds of public finance from 12 countries, including the UK, from 2021-2025. This will support activities in developing countries, including restoring degraded land, tackling wildfires and supporting the rights of indigenous communities.

Countries from the northern forests of Canada and Russia to the tropical rainforests of Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo endorsed the declaration. The UK said together, they contain 85 per cent of the world’s forests, an area of over 13 million square miles.

The UK said it will commit 1.5 billion pounds over five years to support the forest pledge.

It will also contribute 200 million pounds, alongside 11 other donors, as part of a new 1.1 billion pounds fund to protect the Congo Basin. The area is home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world which is threatened by industrial logging, mining and agriculture.

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