LIBREVILLE, GABON — French President Emmanuel Macron promised $52.9 million (50 million euros) to a new global scheme to reward countries for protecting their forests and biodiversity on Thursday as he called for more concrete action on global climate commitments.
The pledge was announced at the end of the two-day One Forest Summit in Gabon that aimed to assess progress made since last year's COP27 climate conference and renew targets for the preservation and sustainable management of the world's forests.
"We understood the need to have cash on the table and concrete actions," Macron said in a speech on the first full day of a four-nation Africa tour.
The funding from France is part of a joint $106 million (100 million euro) commitment to kickstart a mechanism that aims to reward countries that are scientifically proven to have protected their forests or restored them.
Macron said the scheme would be underpinned by research to improve the understanding of forests' value by mapping carbon reserves, biodiversity and levels of carbon sequestration in the Amazon, Africa and Asia.
How Central African countries such as Gabon manage their share of the world's second-largest rainforest is critical. The so-called lungs of Africa store more carbon per hectare than the Amazon, help regulate temperatures, and generate rain for millions in the arid Sahel and distant Ethiopian highlands.
Macron said the new mechanism would address a current issue with carbon credit schemes where countries like Gabon with relatively untouched forests are not compensated as well as deforested countries that are planting new trees.
"It's a bit absurd," he said.
Macron earlier visited a rainforest on the outskirts of the Gabonese capital, where he strolled among towering trees and sampled a kola nut. He has said he wants to avoid politics during the Africa tour, which includes his first-time visits as president to Angola, Congo and Republic of Congo.
Closing the summit, Gabonese President Ali Bongo expressed satisfaction with its outcome and the outlook for the next climate conference.
"We have put in place a sound plan that will make COP28 the success we wanted it to be."