Plan to conserve global forests: critical carbon sinks

At COP26 during the World Leaders Summit Forest Day session on November 2, 2021, the United States announced the Plan to Conserve Global Forests: Critical Carbon Sinks . The decade-long, whole-of-government Plan sets forth the U.S. approach to conserving critical global terrestrial carbon sinks, deploying a range of diplomatic, policy, and financing tools. The first-of-its-kind plan for the U.S. government seeks to catalyze the global effort to conserve and restore the forests and other ecosystems that serve as critical carbon sinks. Subject to Congressional appropriations, by 2030, the United States intends to dedicate up to $9 billion of our international climate funding to support the objectives of the Plan.

The United States recognizes that without halting deforestation and restoring forests at scale, we cannot reach net zero emissions by 2050, and we cannot limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is not a long-term challenge. It is something we must do immediately, in this critical decade. Forests and other ecosystems could provide as much as one-third of global mitigation by 2030 – by reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and by enhancing the carbon sequestered from the atmosphere through forest restoration. The Plan to Conserve Global Forests: Critical Carbon Sinks has been devised to catalyze even more ambitious global action towards this end.

The Plan supports collective goals the United States has previously endorsed, including efforts to end natural forest loss by 2030; to significantly increase the rate of global restoration of degraded landscapes and forestlands; and to slow, halt, and reverse forest cover and carbon loss. The Plan outlines the initial approaches the United States intends to deploy to achieve four key objectives:

  • Incentivize forest and ecosystem conservation and forest landscape restoration;
  • Catalyze private sector investment, finance, and action to conserve critical carbon sinks;
  • Build long-term capacity and support the data and monitoring systems that enhance accountability;
  • Increase ambition for climate and conservation action.

To maximize the potential contribution of forests and other critical ecosystems to a net zero emissions world, the United States intends to work with partners to respond to the challenges of halting deforestation, improving land use, and restoring ecosystems at scale. The implementation of specific elements of the plan will align with the priorities of partner countries, to engender ownership and contribute to coordinated policy and regulatory environments. The design and implementation of Plan elements will prioritize inclusion, particularly of Indigenous peoples and local communities, in partner countries. The United States will continue to consult with the full range of partners and stakeholders, including governments of countries with important terrestrial carbon sinks, indigenous peoples, local communities, civil society organizations, commodity-dependent companies, and public, private, and multilateral finance institutions to further refine and advance the Plan.

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