COP26 latest: What to expect on Day 21 min read

The UKs environment secretary has said that the deforestation agreement struck late on the first day of COP26 is a major step forward”, as countries around the world pledged to a phased ending to the destruction of forests.

“This is a really significant breakthrough,” George Eustice told Sky News on Tuesday. “We’ve now got over 100 countries covering around 85 per cent of the forests around the world committed to ending the net loss of forests by 2030.” 

“It includes key countries like Russia, which has got a huge area of forests and obviously Canada as well, but also some of the central African countries . . . and Brazil, which would surprise some people,” he added.

How the commitment will be enforced remains unclear, however. Deforestation in Brazil has risen sharply under president Jair Bolsonaro, who has also slashed the budget for environmental enforcement even after making a commitment to halt deforestation by 2030 in April.

The UK environment secretary later told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that some companies had also committed to increase due diligence on forrestry products in their supply chains.

“Here in the UK we’re introducing through our environment bill a new due diligence requirement on big manufacturers who make use of forest risk products . . . to make sure that those aren’t linked to illegal deforestation,” he said.

Eustice said they had secured commitments from 28 countries to introduce similar measures.

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