Protecting, conserving and restoring forests makes a substantial contribution towards achieving the Paris Agreement, as emphasized by the Glasgow Climate Pact (UNFCCC 2022). According to a report launched at COP26, nature-based solutions implemented across all ecosystems can deliver emission reductions and removals of at least 5 GtCO2e per year by 2030, from which 62% (around 3 GtCO2e per year) of this contribution is associated with protecting, conserving, and restoring forest ecosystems. The same report highlights that the greatest mitigation potential is held by “Avoided Forest Conversion” solutions, given the direct benefits of retaining intact forest compared to forest regrowth. The importance of forests for climate change mitigation led to the endorsement of the Glasgow World Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use to halt global deforestation by 2030 at COP26 by more than 140 country leaders. Although annual gross deforestation has declined from around 12 million hectares between 2010 and 2015 to approximately 10 million hectares between 2015 and 2020, this reduction is insufficient to end deforestation by 2030, according to the Forest Declaration Platform.
The Green Gigaton Challenge sets a milestone of achieving one gigaton of carbon dioxide equivalent (1 Gt CO2e) in emissions reductions from forest ecosystems by 2025, and 1 Gt CO2e per year thereafter. The UN-REDD Pogramme is helping to prepare a briefing paper to highlight the importance of this milestone to the Glasgow Climate Pact, and other key targets and commitments. For this analysis, the paper will review the most recent studies on emissions reductions attributed to forests and the current contribution of forests to international commitments on emissions reductions. Additionally, the paper will collate the most up-to-date information on the resources committed to date and the corresponding emissions reductions to quantify and evaluate the advances toward achieving the Green Gigaton Challenge. Based on these analyses, the work will explore the enabling conditions as well as the barriers and pathways needed to: (i) deliver 1 Gt of emissions reductions from forests; and (ii) mobilize the equivalent of 1 Gt in payments. The action needed to achieve this milestone will be highlighted, including changes in the existing strategies, incentives, finance instruments, partnerships and engagement with key stakeholders. This publication will be launched at the upcoming UNFCCC COP-27.
As part of the preparation of this publication, a virtual expert workshop was held on 24 August 2022. This event gave participants an overview of progress on the Green Gigaton Challenge paper and drew on the expertise of those present regarding the barriers and pathwards toward achieving one gigaton of high-quality reductions by 2025.
Some of the barriers discussed include insufficiently high prices of carbon and the lack of diversity of funders for forest-based mitigation services, which makes scaling up investment a challenge.
Consultations will continue over the next few weeks on aligning pathways with actions to accelerate progress toward meeting the one gigaton milestone.