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World leaders make historic pledges on forests, methane emissions

World leaders on Tuesday made remarkable pledges on real action at the COP26 summit to limit rising temperatures and support to small island developing states (SIDS) and Africa to adapt to the changing climate.

A wide range of announcements were made on day three of the UN climate conference, focusing on green innovation and historic commitments on deforestation and methane emissions.

More than 100 leaders took a landmark step forward at a meeting of world leaders, committing to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.

The pledge is backed by $12 billion in public and $7.2 billion in private funding.

Countries including Canada, Russia, Brazil — which also increased their national commitments, China, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo all endorsed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use.

Together, they pledged to support 85% of the world’s forests, an area of over 13 million square miles which absorbs around one-third of global carbon released from burning fossil fuels each year.

This was also the first time that a COP conference included a major event on methane, with 105 countries, including 15 major emitters such as Brazil, Nigeria, and Canada, signing up to the Global Methane Pledge.

The historic commitment, led by the US and EU alongside the UK COP26 presidency, equates to up to 40% of global methane emissions and 60% of global GDP.

South Africa to receive $8.5 billion in climate assistance

The third day of COP26 also featured an international partnership between South Africa on one side and the US, Britain, France, Germany, and the EU on the other to provide $8.5 billion over the next three to five years to help the African country transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Climate change is an existential challenge that confronts us all, and South Africa is committed to playing its part in reducing global emissions. The partnership that we have established today is a watershed moment not only for our own just transition, but for the world as a whole,” the office of President Cyril Ramaphosa quoted him as saying in a statement.

South Africa is the world’s most carbon-intensive electricity producer and is struggling with the ageing coal-fired power plants that produce 80% of its electricity.

The partners will mobilize funds through a range of instruments, including grants and concessional finance, to support the implementation of South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to reduce domestic carbon emissions to within a target range between 420 CO2-eq and 350 CO2-eq by 2030.

The partners said they were supporting South Africa as it needed a just transition from coal, especially since there several important sectors stood to be negatively affected by such a transition, including mining, energy, manufacturing, and transport.

South Africa is ranked the 12th biggest climate emitter in the world and the top emitter on the continent. The country said it would use the funds to accelerate investment in renewables and the development of new sectors including electric vehicles and green hydrogen.

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