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Bonn/Washington DC—There is a very special day coming up and one well worth celebrating everywhere.

In New York, on April 22, governments will sign the new Paris Climate Change Agreement en route to it coming into force as millions of people around the globe mark annual Earth Day, or International Mother Earth Day.

Earth Day’s theme this year is focused on trees with the aim of mobilizing nearly eight billion plantings, or one for every man, woman and child alive by 2020—together we can maybe do it sooner!

The link between the Paris Agreement and trees is clear—forests will be key allies for combating climate change and meeting the long term goal of restoring the ecological balance of planet Earth by the second half of the century.

Trees and forests are also crucial for assisting efforts  to meet the new Sustainable Development Goals given their role is absorbing carbon, cleaning and cooling the air; acting as natural water pumps to sustain river flows; stabilizing soils; recycling nutrients for agriculture and supporting habitats for wildlife to name just a few of their gifts to humanity.

So let’s get planting now, in the run up to April 22 and beyond.

Children planing trees in India

You can also simply hug your favorite tree, like UNFCCC spokesperson Nick Nuttall

Our asks are simple, we want to create a buzz around the signing of the Paris Agreement; let governments know that everyone is right behind them while making a very practical difference on the ground in terms of a healthier, less risky world.

We are asking everyone to do one or all of three things:

1) Plant a tree for the Paris Agreement signing and maybe attach a little plaque

2) Hug a tree for the Paris Agreement signing

3) Sketch or photograph your favorite tree for the Paris Agreement signing

Then post images and texts about your good work on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media network using the hashtags #ParisAgreement and #Trees4Earth, along with #EarthDay2016 if there is space.

Go the Earth Day web site and register your event and learn about more cool things you can do.

And tell governments, local authority leaders, business leaders, friends and family why you have done it and get them on board—you could even use the hashtags #ParisAgreement #Means4Me when writing to them.

Forests Key to Success of Paris Agreement

Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, said: "Planting, hugging or sketching a tree to mark the signing of the Paris Agreement and to celebrate Earth Day is an expression of solidarity, love and hope".

"The Paris Agreement, if fully implemented, offers a prospect of a far better world for billions of people. Conserving, restoring and extending the Earth’s natural or nature-based infrastructure including forests will be a big part of its long term success and long term goal," she added.

Ms. Figueres, who will be in New York for the Paris Agreement signing, launched the campaign by hugging a Poro tree in her native Costa Rica.

Christiana Figueres next to a Poro tree

Kathleen Rogers, President of the Earth Day Network, said on the occasion of the launch:

“Trees and forests are the most vital weapon we have against climate change. We must reduce the amount of carbon we pump into the air each and every day, but forests are the natural filter that will absorb and cleanse our air of the carbon already present. In order for the Paris climate Agreement to work as intended, individuals and nations need to get planting and help us in our effort to get 7.8 billion trees in the ground by Earth Day 2020. Without these natural carbon sinks allied to cleaner energy, smarter ways of doing business and a clear commitment to solve the difficulties of the poor, the Agreement risks becoming so much hot air.”

The UNFCCC secretariat will plant a tree in May in the gardens around its offices in Bonn, Germany with a special plaque marking the Paris Agreement and Earth Day in the presence of delegates from countries world-wide attending the May climate conference in advance of the 22nd Conference of the Parties to be held in Morocco in November.

Useful Resources

You can find out about the work of more organizations working forest protection here:

United Nations Forum on Forests

UN-REDD Programme

FAO Forestry Department

UNEP on Forests

Forest Stewardship Council

WWF Forests for Life

Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

See here for more information on REDD+ on the UNFCCC website and here for information on Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry under the UNFCCC

Image at top of story by Climate Cents

 

 

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