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Forests: International Cooperation

Volume 477: debated on Monday 16 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's objectives are for the forthcoming G8 Environment Ministerial in Kobe, Japan; and whether he will be seeking an agreement to address illegal logging. (209369)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs attended this meeting on 24 to 26 May.

The three agenda items were climate change, biodiversity (covering illegal logging issues) and the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). The meeting produced a Chair's Summary, as well as agreeing a ‘3R Action Plan’ and a ‘Call to Action on Biodiversity’, linked to a ‘G8 Forests Experts’ Report on Illegal Logging’ that includes a menu of actions for G8 members to address illegal logging collectively and individually. These documents are publicly available on the website of Japan's Ministry of the Environment.

At the meeting, the UK made contributions on each of the three items.

On climate change, the Secretary of State's overall aim was to give impetus to the G8 summit and to engage in dialogue with G8+8 countries on climate change issues. There was a positive discussion on long-term climate goals which should send an appropriately strong signal to the G8 summit and a good discussion on carbon markets, with several parties explaining their intentions on national cap and trade schemes. There was also agreement to a further dialogue—the Kobe process—which will provide a valuable forum for informal discussions with major emitters.

On the 3Rs, the Secretary of State underlined the importance of improving resource efficiency and promoting more sustainable products and materials at national and international level. He pointed out that implementing the England Waste Strategy 2007 is expected to lead to an annual net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 9.3 million tons of CO2 equivalent, roughly the same as taking 3 million cars off the road each year. He stressed the need for strict compliance with the UN Basel Convention on the trans-boundary movement of waste, and for measures to promote environmentally sound ship recycling.

On biodiversity, the Secretary of State in his interventions focused particularly on forestry and illegal logging, emphasising that improved forest governance is essential to deliver reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) as well as to maintain forest biodiversity. He also underlined the importance of working to achieve the 2010 biodiversity target and ensuring effective follow-up to that target.