At Avoided Deforestation Partners’s high-level forest-climate COP15 side event, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the U.S.’s pledge of $1 billion contribution to forest conservation.
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COPENHAGEN, Dec. 17 – At an Avoided Deforestation Partners event Wednesday at the Copenhagen climate conference, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a $1 billion U.S. contribution to forest conservation. The funding will focus on readying rainforest nations to participate in the much larger forest conservation activities set to be implemented under both pending U.S. climate legislation and the international climate agreement being negotiated this week.
“Protecting the world’s forests is not a luxury – it is a necessity,” said Vilsack. “This substantial commitment reflects our recognition that international public finance must play a role in developing countries’ efforts to slow, halt and reverse deforestation.”
The ADP-sponsored event brought together perhaps the most high-profile gathering of leaders ever assembled to discuss REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. Participants included World Bank President Robert Zoellick; conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall; Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai; Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson; and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, among many world and environmental NGO
Following Vilsack’s announcement, and in the context of an ambitious and comprehensive outcome in Copenhagen, Australia, France, Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom agreed to dedicate a total of US $3.5 billion as initial public financing toward slowing, halting and eventually reversing deforestation in developing countries.
The announcement was met with widespread praise by the host of environmental leaders in attendance: “The President has taken the first step forward to bring resources to the table to break the deadlock in Copenhagen,” said National Resources Defense Council president Frances Beinecke. ” Combined with the funding included in the clean energy and climate legislation pending in the Senate, this would amount to $1 billion over three years. That’s real money to preserve forests and the essential carbon capture they provide.”
“Secretary Vilsack’s announcement shows the United States is seriously engaging in the fight to protect the climate by saving forests,” said Jeff Horowitz, founding partner of Avoided Deforestation Partners.
The U.S. pledge of funds followed an afternoon of events that included participation from many of the world leaders engaged in the international effort to save the world’s forests.
During a panel moderated by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg explained his country’s $500 million investment in climate forest conservation.
“If we manage to stop deforestation, we’ll have averted a third of all emissions we need to cut by 2020,” Stoltenberg said. “As an economist, I can see the results.”
President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana called on countries to provide real financing at scale to protect forests. Governor Eduardo Braga of Brazil’s Amazonas State, who has set up a program to finance forest conservation in his state, said developed countries like the United States should provide large-scale funding for conservation of the climate forests. “The time for pilot projects is over,” he said.
Participants from the private sector and international development communities made their own pledges, while leaders from the conservation community reminded attendees what is at stake when it comes to forest protection.
Sir Richard Branson, CEO of the Virgin Group, advocated that the proceeds of any penalties levied on the aviation industry go to protect rainforests and other environmental causes.
Brian McClendon, vice president of Google, Inc. and co-founder of Google Earth, delivered a presentation focusing on the major advances in satellite monitoring of forests – and discussed how satellite technology has now been democratized so that ordinary people around the world can monitor and report what is happening to forests in their backyard or thousands of miles away. The work was saluted by Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall spoke of the importance of protecting the forests not only for the benefits they provide to the climate, but also for the wildlife and people who inhabit them. “We must remember these forests were not created just for us,” she said.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark discussed opportunities to work jointly to protect forests, while Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, the lead U.S. negotiator of the Kyoto Protocol, called on the United States and other countries to deploy a combination of public and private incentives to ensure forests were saved.
IUCN president Julia Marton LeFèvre and World Wildlife Fund President Carter Roberts discussed the emerging consensus that protecting forests should be part of the solution to climate change.
American Electric Power Senior Vice President Dennis Welch and Duke Energy Senior Vice President Bill Tyndall joined The Nature Conservancy president Mark Tercek and Environmental Defense Fund Executive Director David Yarnold to discuss how protecting the world’s rainforests was an important area of common ground in the fight against climate change.back to top
Agenda and Speakers
I. Opening remarks: The Importance of Taking Action
- Welcome by: Jeffrey Horowitz – Founder, Avoided Deforestation Partners
II. Special preview presentation: Technological Services in Support of Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV)
- Introduction by: Kevin Knobloch – President, Union of Concerned Scientists
- Presentation by: Brian McClendon – Vice President, Google, Inc., Co-founder – Google Earth
III. In Support of a REDD Global Framework
- Hon. Helen Clark – Administrator, U.N. Development Programme, former Prime Minister New Zealand
- Robert Zoellick – President, World Bank
IV.Evolving Perspectives on Forests and Climate
- Hon. Eduardo Braga – Governor, Amazonas, Brazil
- Julia Marton-Lefèvre – Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
- Carter Roberts – President, World Wildlife Fund, U.S.
V. International Leaders and Innovators on Forests and Climate
Speaker and Panel moderator: Thomas Friedman – Author, Journalist
- Hon. Jens Stoltenberg – Prime Minister of Norway
- Sir Richard Branson – Founder, The Virgin Group
- Jane Goodall, DBE – Founder, The Jane Goodall Institute and United Nations Messenger of Peace
- His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo – President of Guyana
VI. U.S. Climate Legislation Progress
Speaker and Panel moderator: Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat – former U.S. Negotiator Kyoto Protocol
- Frances Beinecke – President, Natural Resources Defense Council
- Dennis Welch – Executive Vice President, American Electric Power
- Fred Krupp – President, Environmental Defense Fund
- Mark Tercek – President and CEO, The Nature Conservancy
- Peter Seligmann – Chairman and CEO, Conservation International
- Bill Tyndall – Senior Vice-President, Duke Energy
VII. The Urgent Need for Policies to Protect Tropical Forests and our Climate
- Hon. Thomas Vilsack – United States Secretary of Agriculture
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