Britain pledges �295m to anti-deforestation EFF

Britain is to commit at least £295 million to anti-deforestation efforts as part of a six-country deal aimed at helping secure a global climate change deal, it has been announced.

Australia, France, Japan, Norway and the United States have agreed that $3.5bn of their share of a proposed $10bn a year fast start funding package for developing nations to cope with global warming from 2010 to 2012 would be directed to the issue.

Deforestation is one of the major causes of greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for more globally than transport, and funding to deal with it is an important part of poorer nations' demands at the UN summit in Copenhagen.

Britain has pledged a total of £1.5bn to the initial funding stream.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who met with representatives of some of the most affected countries, including Brazil's president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as part of his efforts to avoid deadlock at the talks, said it was "central" to a deal and called on other nations to add their own commitments.

"Deforestation accounts for almost a fifth of global emissions, and the forests of the rainforest nations provide a global service in soaking up the pollution of the world." he said.

"Unless action is taken, these forests could be lost forever, impacting not only the global climate but on the livelihoods of 90 per cent of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty who rely on forest resources for their survival.

"An agreement to slow, halt and eventually reverse deforestation has to be central to the outcome here in Copenhagen. Around USD25 billion over the period of 2010-15 is needed to cut deforestation rates in developing countries by 25 per cent by 2015.

"Developed countries should provide the majority of this, supporting rainforest countries' own efforts.

"This collective fast start effort is a very significant building block towards that. I will be putting every possible effort into strengthening the collective effort and working with all nations to reach the most ambitious climate deal."

The money will be directed to the 'REDD+' project.

In a joint statement, the six nations said it was "an initial investment in developing countries that put forward ambitious REDD+ plans and that achieve forest emission reductions according to their respective capabilities.

"We collectively commit to scaling up our finance thereafter in line with opportunities and the delivery of results. We invite other donors to join us in this effort to make early action on REDD+ a reality."

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