Sub-national governments half way to 1 billion trees target

20 June 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO: State and regional government members of The Climate Group have announced that they have passed the half-way point to their target of planting 1 billion trees by 2015.

The combined pledges of The Climate Group’s States and Regions Alliance Members have exceeded 500 million – as announced at a meeting in Rio de Janeiro in the lead-up to the Rio+20 United Nations Sustainable Development Summit.

The Climate Group’s CEO, Mark Kenber, said he was delighted that States and Regions members have reached this important milestone: “These commitments demonstrate genuine progress against The Climate Group’s 1 Billion Trees initiative, which was announced in Copenhagen in December 2009.”

At the Climate Leaders Summit held on December 15, 2009, as part of the UNFCCC COP15 meeting in Copenhagen, more than 60 leaders, ministers, state secretaries and other sub-national leaders signed the Copenhagen Statement of Federated States and Regional Governments.

Within this Statement the leaders expressed their commitment to planting at least 1 billion trees worldwide by 2015 and to report on progress towards this goal.

Quebec and Scotland led the charge, with a commitment to plant 100 million trees each by 2015 – each of which is on track.  Many other sub-national governments have also pledged to plant a total of tens of millions of trees, including Aragon, Catalonia, Manitoba, Ontario, North Rhine Westphalia, Poitou Charentes, South Australia and Wales.

Under the 1 Billion Tree initiative, only plantings that would not have otherwise occurred are counted.

As part of World States and Regions Summit in Rio de Janeiro, members of The Climate Group’s States and Regions Alliance reported on progress against targets, announced new planting initiatives or increased their original pledges.  

New members making commitments included the State of Sao Paulo, La Reunion and KwaZulu Natal.

The State of Sao Paulo announced that it will add 200 million trees by 2015, through native forests restoration in its own territory - ensuring both climate protection and biodiversity. Mark Kenber commented on this statement: “The Climate Group commends this extraordinary commitment by the State of Sao Paulo, one of our newest members.”

State Environment Secretary, Bruno Covas, said “Sao Paulo is honoured to join The Climate Group’s States and Regions Allliance and is proud to have helped The Climate Group pass the half-way mark in the 1 Billion Trees initiative. This comprises one-fifth of the total 1 billion target and we will build on this commitment with 200 million more trees by 2020.” 

The 1 Billion Trees initiative was an idea proposed by then South Australian Premier, Mike Rann.

Mr Rann, who is now a member of the International Leadership Council of The Climate Group, said he hoped the momentum generated by the 1 Billion Trees campaign will encourage national governments to make an even bigger commitment. “50-80% of the decisions that affect our environment are made at the state and regional level. Sub-national governments have often been the leaders in tackling climate change. That leadership has again been demonstrated with this giant commitment to greening our planet – thanks to The Climate Group’s encouragement and guidance.”  

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