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Address by Minister Goldsmiths to the Forum of Ministers of the Environment of Latin America & the Caribbean

Address by Minister Goldsmiths to the Forum of Ministers of the Environment of Latin America & the Caribbean

It was an honor to be here, at end of an inspiring trip in Ecuador and Costa Rica, just weeks after a similar inspiring visit to Peru, Colombia, and to meet many of your here today at Leticia Pact prior to COP26.

I could talk for hours about the stunning beauty of the region and the leadership that you have displayed in relation to the most difficult challenge facing humanity.

It was wonderful to spend time with my friends Andrea Meza and Carlos Correa. I also made new friends from Panama.

You’ll be happy to know that I won’t spend hours raving about the amazing beauty of this area.

However, I would like to share my thoughts, if you allow, on the outcome of COP26 in Glasgow.

The message was heard by the whole world from both nature-rich, ambitious countries and climate vulnerable countries around the globe, as well as many small island developing countries.

Prime Minister Mottley spoke out strongly about the urgent need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and to provide more support to communities that are suffering from a crisis that is not their own.

Roxana Borda mamani, a young Quechua activist from Peru, was a remarkable speaker at COP. She spoke so movingly about the importance of empowering indigenous peoples and local communities.

I can’t pretend, and Im not going pretend that we have closed the gap between where are at and where we need be, if we really want to address these big problems and reverse the climate change that threatens our planet.

We did, however, narrow that gap significantly and I believe more than anyone had expected.

We created a momentum.

We kept the possibility alive that we could stay within 1.5 degrees.

90% of the global economy has now signed up to net zero, compared to 30% a year ago.

We agreed to measures that undoubtedly signaled the end of the coal era. 2021 was also the year that ended international public financing for coal power.

We are also accelerating the transition to renewable energy, including green hydrogen.

We have completed the Paris rulebook, which includes the important Article 6.

The new rachet system, which has been overlooked but is crucial in my opinion, will allow us to maintain the pressure year after year.

And I’m delighted that the UK is investing 100m to implement the critical recommendations made by the Taskforce on Access to Finance which we co-chair along with Fiji.

Even though we didn’t reach our promised $100bn figure, we are continuing to push donor countries to fulfill that promise as we continue to serve our presidency. We have a solid plan to do so and are confident that we will.

However, what made this COP stand out from previous COPs and was I think so significant was that nature moved beyond the margins to become the heart of our response on climate change.

This is important because you know better than anyone that there’s no credible way to tackle climate change and to achieve net zero. It doesn’t require a huge emphasis on protecting or restoring nature.

Climate change is but one of many disastrous effects of our reckless and abusive relationship to the natural world.

Climate change is, if you will, the fever.

The beauty of backing nature is the ability to address many other issues, such as pollution, poverty, and even pandemics.

The most effective solutions based on nature are undoubtedly the best, but they also have the highest cost effectiveness. We need to support them.

And I think we won that argument at the COP. I don’t see any going r back.

It was the bravery of big-ocean and big-nature nations, many of whom are here today, that allowed the UK presidency be as ambitious and allowed us to make and win arguments in favor of protecting and restoring the environment.

And for that, I am so grateful to you today.

141 countries representing more than 90% of the world’s forest cover signed the Glasgow commitment to stop and reverse forest loss and land degrading by 2030.

This declaration is not just a paper one.

It is bolstered by unprecedented levels public, private, and philanthropic financing totaling nearly USD$20 trillion

The vast majority of deforestation is caused by the public commitments of the world’s largest buyers of agricultural commodities.

The main Multilateral Development Banks as well as financial institutions overseeing assets valued at many trillions of dollars, have made a similar commitment.

Each of them will commit to align their purchasing and portfolios with the Paris goals and with our deforestation targets.

28 countries are working together to end the link between agricultural commodity deforestation and agricultural commodity, as well as supporting livelihoods.

And that’s been backed up, Im delighted to say, with a commitment of 500m from the UK

This is being supported by a growing movement by consumer countries to introduce due diligence laws, such as the one we have introduced in the UK.

This project aims to strengthen forest governance worldwide and reduce the impact of supply chains on other countries.

COP26 also secured almost $2bn to help indigenous peoples, and local communities to protect their forests.

I had the privilege of meeting one indigenous leader at COP. He said, “Weve protected 80% worlds forest biodiversity with no support whatsoever, often in the face a acute danger; can your imagination imagine what we will be able o get support?”

We have made a commitment to the Amazon to work with Indigenous communities.

The UK was able to do so after my visit to Carlos Correa, Colombia, and friends in Peru. We were able make that commitment to support the extraordinary work happening in critical areas of the Amazon through the LEAF coalition, which I hope will grow significantly in the next year.

Until Egypt hands over all of the COP to Egypt at the close of the year, the UK is still the COP president

We promise that we will do everything we can to ensure that those promises are kept and that they are followed through.

There is much to do and I look forward working with some of the most ambitious countries in this world, many of which are here today.

We have seen that even countries and companies that are more cautious, as well as institutions, feel the pressure.

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They have seen that we are making small but significant steps towards shifting the enormous power of the market towards resilience, sustainability, and renewal.

This shift is now taking place.
We need more speed and urgency, but that’s not possible unless governments use the levers that they have exclusive control of.

The rules are set up by the government.

We have the power to and the responsibility for adjusting those rules to ensure that pollution, degradation, and waste do not become an unaffordable liability

That the market recognizes the true worth of the natural systems on which we all rely.

This is a crucial year.

We will have to work together to ensure that all the decisions made at the different landmark moments this year add up and that the world is truly on the road to recovery.

We have a great opportunity to accelerate the shift to a circular economy if we can agree a global agreement on microplastics and marine litter at UNEA.

A new, ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework will be presented at the CBD COP15. It will include mechanisms that will allow Parties to be held accountable.

The UK is proud that it is part of this extraordinary, global alliance committed to protecting at minimum 30% of the earth’s land, and at least 30% the oceans of the world by 2030.

To reach that agreement, we must all work together.

Many of you play crucial roles and I am so grateful to you.

Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador announced their extraordinary vision of a new marine reserve with high connectivity and protection that covers half-a-million kilometers of ocean.

As someone who was there at COP cajoling countries and trying to get them to raise their ambition, I can tell you that that moment really sparked a green arms race at COP where countries from all over the continent wanted to join in and bask the glory that these four countries were enjoying due to their announcement.

It helped us to increase our ambition. I am so grateful to you.

It is precisely the ambition we all need, and the UK pledged at COP that it would support their initiative. We made a small, tentative move towards this today.

As I was able tell my friends in these four countries, the UK will contribute 2m to kickstart the process. However, this is only the beginning of a long-term relationship.

There is no reason to think that this decade can’t be the one that truly changes our lives and brings us into harmony with the natural world.

Yesterday, I spoke out about this defining challenge when I met President Alvarado, the President of the United States.

We will all be judged based on whether we can do that.

I look forward to working with these countries in the region.

Andrea, thank again for inviting me and for taking care of me over the past few days. I appreciate your time, but more importantly, for the incredible, global leadership we need right now.

Thank you so much.

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