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Amazon and Nestle join public-private plan to save world's forests

Thu 22nd April, 2021 3:30pm
* LEAF coalition aims to raise an initial $1 bln 
    * Calls for countries to apply by July 
    * Payouts linked to emissions between 2022-2026

    By Simon Jessop
    LONDON, April 22 (Reuters) - The United States, Norway and
Britain joined forces with companies including Amazon  AMZN.O 
and Nestle  NESN.S  on Thursday to launch a project aimed at
protecting the world's tropical forests.
    Announcing the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest
finance (LEAF) Coalition at the U.S.-convened Leaders Summit on
climate, the public-private project aims to raise at least $1
billion in initial financing, it said.
    Governments and companies taking part will pay countries
with tropical and subtropical forests for emissions reductions,
a move it hopes will help reduce and eventually end
deforestation.
    As the world looks to move quickly to a low-carbon economy
to prevent catastrophic climate change, protecting the forests
that help remove carbon from the atmosphere naturally is seen as
a crucial step, but one that has so far largely failed. 
    The pace of deforestation actually picked up in 2020, LEAF
said, with data from Global Forest Watch showing a 12 percent
increase from the prior year or more than 10 million hectares of
primary tropical forest, roughly the size of Switzerland.
    "The LEAF coalition is a groundbreaking example of the scale
and type of collaboration that is needed to fight the climate
crisis and achieve net-zero emissions globally by 2050," said
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
    "Bringing together government and private-sector resources
is a necessary step in supporting the large-scale efforts that
must be mobilized to halt deforestation and begin to restore
tropical and subtropical forests." 
    Countries looking to take part in the programme will need to
have the reduction in deforestation-linked emissions verified by
a new, more rigorous standard assessed at the national level by
an independent third party, the coalition said in a statement.
    With applications due by July 2021 and the aim of signing
contracts before the end of the year, payments would be based on
emissions reductions linked to reducing levels of deforestation
or degradation, or by restoring forests, between 2022 and 2026.
    Companies looking to take part in the project will only be
allowed to join if they can show a commitment to "deep voluntary
cuts" in their own emissions, in line with science-based targets
and the Paris Agreement on climate.
    "Climate change is the greatest threat to our planet, and
the LEAF coalition offers us an opportunity to bring together
governments and companies to fight it," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon
founder and CEO. 
    "In uniting behind a common cause, the countries and
companies of the coalition have a chance to end deforestation by
2030."
    Among other companies to sign up to the project are Airbnb
 ABNB.O , Boston Consulting Group, GlaxoSmithKline  GSK.L ,
McKinsey, Salesforce  CRM.N , Bayer  BAYGn.DE  and Unilever
 ULVR.L , although more are expected to join over time.
    U.S. non-profit Emergent will oversee the administration of
the project.

 (Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Nick Macfie)
 ((simon.jessop@thomsonreuters.com; +44 (0) 207 542 5052;
Reuters Messaging: Reuters Messaging:
simon.jessop.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))
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