News from the Paris climate change forum

Australia’s government has revealed a global rainforest plan designed to stop billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, promote opportunities for indigenous people and protect the environment. It’s good news since the nation has been falling behind the rest of the western world for some time, with a string of climate change deniers voted into high places.

Widespread international support for forest conservation

The World Bank and the board of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature are supporting an expansion of Australia’s efforts in the Asia Pacific and will work alongside current international forest proposals like that backed by Prince Charles. France, Britain and Norway have all joined Australia’s rainforest initiative, which already included Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

The Australian plan was launched at the Global Landscape Forum, the world’s latest gathering to discuss sustainable development and a sideline to the main Paris climate event. And some say wide ranging support for the Australian recommendations reflect a welcome shift towards direct action.

Gates and Obama add their voices

There’s more good news, with Microsoft founder Bill Gates and President Obama launching a research and innovation initiative, and the former Irish president Mary Robinson chairing a session about global forests and the future of the REDD plus fund, designed to promote investment.

International finance finally catches up

Better still, international finance leaders have earmarked environmental investment with social benefits as ‘the next big thing’. This is brilliant news because  in the western consumer culture, unless an initiative has the potential for profit, it’s extremely difficult to get it off the ground.

The Australian merchant banker and Credit Suisse managing director Mark Burrows said, “Investors are looking for investments that are socially conscious. This a terrific opportunity to access large private wealth managers around the world.”

As the Australian draft text says:

Rainforests play an essential role in the long-term health of the planet. Community, private sector and political will is building to find better ways to maximise the economic, social and environmental benefits of rainforests, and to slow, halt and reverse deforestation, while enhancing food security for all.”

36 football fields’ worth of forest lost every minute

In a world where we’re losing 36 football fields’ worth of forest every minute, it’s an urgent issue. Let’s hope these initiatives, “build on and better harness existing efforts to slow, halt and reverse rainforest loss”.

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