Washington, DC (April 22, 2021) – Today, as part of the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, a group of governments and multinational corporation announced the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance (LEAF) Coalition, which seeks to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by providing substantial financial support to tropical and subtropical countries that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

The coalition includes the governments of Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States, international companies, and Emergent which will facilitate transactions and serve as the coordinator.

The goal of the coalition is for government and private sector participants to pay for high-quality emissions reductions from tropical forests, verified against an independent standard. This public-private partnership is intended to mobilize finance needed to protect tropical forests, with an initial goal of raising at least $1 billion USD this year.

Note: WRI is not a member of the coalition. WRI Senior Fellow Frances Seymour is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) which manages The REDD+ Environmental Excellence Standard (TREES), the certification standard selected by the LEAF Coalition to ensure the high quality of emissions reductions.

Following is a statement from Manish Bapna, Interim President and CEO, World Resources Institute:

“Protecting tropical forests must be part of any effective climate action plan. The LEAF Coalition offers an important new approach that can help scale forest protection finance, without diluting emissions reductions elsewhere. With the proper oversight and administration, this coalition can help bring the world closer to achieving a 1.5 C pathway.

“The system and scale set forth by the LEAF Coalition, consistent with the Paris Agreement framework, will facilitate high-quality forest-based emissions reductions by verifying against the independent standard, ART TREES. The LEAF Coalition makes the critical stipulation that participation is additive to private sector, science-based emissions reductions targets.

“The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), of which WRI is an anchor partner, requires participating companies to set near-term Paris-aligned targets to reduce emissions across their value chains and encourages investment in emissions reductions to compensate for remaining emissions when they supplement a company’s efforts to reduce its own emissions in line with a 1.5 C trajectory. Coalition members should adopt this standard to ensure these additional investments enhance, and don’t detract from, the overall pace of global climate ambition.

“Forests can provide over 20% of the climate mitigation needed before 2030, but currently account for less than 3% of climate funding. And, at the same time, tropical forest loss continues to rise. Recent analysis from WRI shows emissions from primary tropical forest loss in 2020 alone were equivalent the annual emissions of 570 million cars.

“The LEAF Coalition offers the financial assurance needed for countries to start prioritizing policies and investments that reduce deforestation and protect their tropical forests. The success of the initiative will depend on the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, who have proven to be the most effective guardians of the forest. With an approach that offers high-quality, jurisdictional-scale credits with local-level involvement, governments of forest-rich countries can have the confidence that protecting forests will pay off. This approach can be a triple-win: for the climate, tropical forests and for people that depend on them.”