Efforts to tackle global deforestation risk being side lined, says Unilever Chief Executive

Efforts to tackle global deforestation risk being side lined, says Unilever Chief Executive

Unilever Chief Executive Paul Polman has warned that a more ambitious approach to funding forest protection is needed, or risk the project being sidelined at the upcoming Paris Climate Summit.

The upcoming Summit will follow recent UN climate talks in Bonn which saw an agreement take shape to increase the REDD+ mechanism for funding forest protection. This goes hand in hand with an international arrangement that took place in 2014 between over 175 nations and businesses to zero deforestation by 2030.

However, Polman has warned that global leaders need to bolster the Paris agreement by delivering on funding commitments to forest countries, local communities and companies. This includes economic incentives and results-based payments to forest countries who are doing their ‘fair share’ to solve the climate crisis.

These payments would help secure the outcome of the new zero deforestation goal, which could cut between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tons of carbon pollution per year by 2030.

Polman has stated that developed nations should make good on pledges made last year, which include financing two billion tons of emission reductions per year from tropical forests by 2020. Likewise Polman has stated that the 2015 New Climate Economy report from the Global Commission on Economy and Climate, of which he is Commissioner, argues ‘for scaled up international flows for REDD+ beyond 2020, with the aim of financing a further one billion tons of emissions reductions per year from 2020 and beyond.’

Increasing agricultural production and restoring productivity to environmentally degraded lands – rather than expanding agriculture at the expense of forests, forest-dependent communities and the climate – should also form part of the financial plans, rather than just focus on narrow forest protection programmes.

This news falls on the same day that a report from Chatham House highlights a risk that illegal logging in parts of Asia has failed to stabilise, despite efforts to tackle the problem. Polman has suggested there is a responsibility for China and India to utilise their buying power by ensuring palm, soy and other forest-based commodities are from a sustainable source. Polman has also suggested that forest partnerships are not featuring prominently in climate discussions going into Paris – with countries focussing on what they can do individually, rather than working together.