Norway and the US strengthen their collaboration on forests and climate change

- Norway and the US share the goal of halting global deforestation. By strengthening collaboration between our two countries on forests and climate change, we can contribute to a more rapid and forceful implementation of the Paris agreement and the sustainable development goals, says Vidar Helgesen, Minister of the Climate and Environment in Norway.

Today, Minister Helgesen signed a joint statement on deeper collaboration on forests and climate change, with State Secretary of the US, John Kerry.

In the statement, which was signed during the world's largest rainforest conference Oslo REDD exchange, Norway and the US underscore that the global climate goals will not be within reach unless the remaining tropical forest is protected.

Measures in forests can contribute with up to one-third of the effort that is needed to limit global warming to well below two degrees.  Through its international climate and forest initiative, Norway has pledged up to 3 billion NOK annually for this effort.

The Paris agreement will underpin efforts to reduce deforestation, in the years to come. Many countries have included forest sector measures in their nationally determined contributions under the agreement. Norway and the US will support implementation of these climate targets, in cooperation with ambitious forest countries.

- We all know that the threat of deforestation and its implications for changing climate are real, grave, and they are growing,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry.  “This isn't just an environmental issue. It's an economic issue. It's an energy issue. It's an issue that touches on our deepest values and our basic sense of responsibility as stewards of the fragile planet we inhabit.

The private sector must join

Mobilising private investments to the benefit of the climate is a key part of the collaboration.

- Interest in investing climate-friendly, in tomorrow's solutions, is on the rise. We will support business strategies for deforestation free supply chains. Business and the financial sector must be part of the solution. I hope the global investor community will engage more in sustainable forest and land use, said Minister Helgesen.

Illegal logging

The joint statement between Norway and the US also highlights combating illegal logging and illegal deforestation as an area of priority. According to Interpol, illegal logging accounts for 50-90 per cent of all forestry activities in key producer tropical forests, such as those of the Amazon Basin, Central Africa and Southeast Asia, and 15-30 per cent of all wood traded globally.

Illegal logging also occurs in many formally protected forests, especially in tropical countries. The trade in illegally harvested timber is highly lucrative and estimated to be worth between USD 30 and USD 100 billion annually.

Experiences from Brazil show that halting illegal logging can give rapid and considerable reduction in deforestation. However, it is a challenge that many countries have low capacity to implement and enforce legislation and forest protection. In the US, the Lacey Act is a key legal instrument, which makes it a crime to import plants that have been collected illegally in the country of origin. 

- Illegal logging is not just a forest problem, it is also part of the financial basis of international organised crime. This is another reason why we raise this issue higher on the agenda, says minister Helgesen.

The joint statement is found here (pdf).

Oslo REDD exchange is the most important global conference on climate and rainforests to be arranged since the historic Paris Agreement. The conference is arranged by NORAD, on request from the Ministry of Climate and Environment.