Share story

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway pledged Wednesday 145 million kroner ($16.6 million) to an international partnership to combat illegal deforestation and help reach Paris climate accord goals.

Climate and Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen says deforestation is a multi-million business for criminals that cut down invaluable tropical forests, adding “their activities have detrimental consequences for sustainable development in rainforest nations and the global climate.”

He says “halting and reversing land degradation and tropical deforestation could provide up to 30 percent of the climate change solution.”

Elvestuen told the Oslo Tropical Forest Forum that the partnership includes Interpol, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and a U.N.-supported center combatting illegal deforestation.

The three institutions will work together to share expertise, networks and efforts to jointly support countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

The Oslo forum focuses on the role forests play in achieving the Paris accord goals to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“Environmental crime has surged in recent years, generating billions in illicit profits for criminals, who are also involved in corruption, money laundering and other forms of trafficking,” Interpol Secretary-General Jurgen Stock said. “Protecting the environment’s precious resources is our collective responsibility toward future generations.”

The conference said organized criminals make up to $152 billion a year on illegally cutting down tropical forests. Key rainforest countries have estimated illegal logging rates at 50 percent to 85 percent.

The event comes ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in September in San Francisco and the United Nations Climate Change conference in December in Poland.