Forests, Lands, Oceans

We work to reduce emissions from deforestation and strengthen the role of natural climate solutions

Forests in the Paris Agreement

The landmark Paris Climate Summit saw, without question, the strongest endorsement to date of forests in a global climate agreement. The Agreement itself is pro-forests, advocating for a goal of achieving zero net emissions through the protection and restoration of forests. But even more, it catalyzed several important announcements for increased financing for forests – and saw a convergence of intellectual analysis on the importance of forests in reducing global emissions.
Climate Advisers played a central role in key forest outcomes in Paris. We acted as an adviser to the governments of Peru, Norway, The United Kingdom, and Germany, offering support in areas such as the Lima-Paris Action Agenda Forest Day, and the milestone announcement by Norway, the UK and Germany on $5 billion for forest financing by 2020. Climate Advisers also provided on the ground coordination of high-level events in Paris including the Forest Focus Day and a high level press event with world leaders on November 30.
Climate Advisers contributed to ground-breaking analysis in the lead up to Paris through the UNEP Gap Report, New Climate Economy analysis on the forest sector, and in partnership with WWF and IUCN on countries’ national pledges in the forest sector. We also communicated key messages on forest outcomes from Paris to major media outlets around the world, including contributing to opening stories on COP21 featuring the forest sector, and throughout the conference.

The New York Declaration on Forests

Climate Advisers and our partners designed, and recruited signatories for, the New York Declaration on Forests during the run-up to the Paris Agreement. The Declaration was released at the U.N. Secretary-General’s global climate summit, and included the first global timeline to end deforestation – cutting it in half by 2020 and ending it completely by 2030. We led in drafting the text and coordinating a broad coalition of stakeholders and interests.
The innovative public-private partnership of multinationals, governments, civil society and indigenous peoples endorsed a goal that will eliminate the emission of between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. That is equivalent to removing the carbon emissions produced by the one billion cars that are currently on the world’s roads. Endorsers included countries bridging the game between the developed and developing world including the United States, the EU and a large number of tropical forest countries. In the end, over 150 world leaders from governments, businesses and NGOs joined together to endorse these goals, and each pledged to do their part to make it happen.
While the Summit was a major milestone on the road to Paris for many issues, forests had a unique prominence in the discussion – and was described by the New York Times as the most impactful outcome of the meeting.

Transforming the Commodity Sector with C-Suite Advocacy

Speed is essential to effective policy engagement, and no occasion proved that more than the Southeast Asian forest fires that periodically blanket Singapore with haze. In 2013, The fires caused unprecedented toxic air pollution. The driver: the massive demand for palm oil.

Climate Advisers had been waiting for this kind of opportunity. Because we had already conducted a strategic analysis of the palm oil sector with several large funders, we had identified Wilmar as the key bottleneck that could impact the entire industry: as the trader of 45% of the world’s palm oil, they could have a uniquely powerful impact up and down the supply chain if they could clean up their act and stop creating a market for products of deforestation.

Climate Advisers launched an aggressive rapid response media push to Southeast Asian business and other media framing the fires as the product of Wilmar’s willingness to purchase palm oil from deforestation.

Wilmar responded almost immediately. They announced a new commitment to end sourcing from companies involved in forest burning. But they did more than that – their CEO Kuok Khoon Hong contacted Climate Advisers directly, and we seized the chance to work on transforming Wilmar’s supply chain. We launched intensive direct negotiations with Kuok and his team in Singapore.

The result was an industry-transforming “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation” policy announced in December 2013. Since then, with the market for responsible palm oil at last established, major consumer-facing companies have been making responsible commitments of their own almost weekly.

A Good Turn for Forests

Palm oil is in half of all consumer products, and demand in the United States is exploding – but it’s also a major driver of deforestation, pushing orangutans and Sumatran tigers to the brink of extinction. And for years untraceable palm oil, possibly from some of the most destructive and devastating plantations, was in Girl Scout cookies.

In partnership with Girl Scouts around the country led by 15 year old Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Climate Advisers developed a public education campaign about the presence of palm oil in Girl Scout cookies.

The result was a public outcry and a demand that the Girl Scouts live up to their motto, “Do a Good Turn Daily.”

Following this effort, Girl Scouts USA and Kellogg’s have both committed to using only Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certified oil by 2015. While we are working to improve these standards and accelerate the dates, they do represent significant progress.