PARIS—A conference bringing together more than 60 nations Thursday added $1 billion to the fight against deforestation and boosted the morale of those hoping to save the world's forests -- a key defense against global warming.
Three months after a morose ending to climate change talks in Copenhagen, the one-day ministerial meeting in Paris attended by heavily forested countries such as Indonesia and those in the Amazon and Congo basins amounted to a confidence-builder for nations wondering what comes next in the battle against deforestation, many delegates said.
"We entered the meeting with $3.5 billion. It went to $4.5 billion (here) and we want to arrive in Oslo with $6 billion," Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc said after the closed-door talks.
A follow-up to the Paris meeting is planned in Oslo, Norway, in May.
Brice Lalonde, who heads climate negotiations for France, said: "We must go on. ... There is a post-Copenhagen landscape where we will be more pragmatic."
The 64 nations agreed to create a core structure of some 10 countries to work on the mechanics of equitably distributing funds and other issues. The idea is to arrive at the U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, in December with a concrete plan devoted specifically to the critical issue of deforestation.
Efforts to halt that culprit in climate change have bogged down along with the wider goal of reaching a legally binding global agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions while helping poor nations adapt to, and cope with, climate change.
Thursday's meeting focused on an aspect of a forest program -- Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or REDD -- that was approved at the Copenhagen conference.
REDD Plus, discussed in Paris, is an incentive program based on providing funds to nations working to reduce emissions through good forest governance and protecting biological diversity and the rights of indigenous people.
Reclaiming the forest in many cases entails retraining people whose livelihoods are linked to the forest -- or its destruction.
Deforestation -- the burning of woodlands or the rotting of felled trees -- is thought to account for up to 20 percent of C02 released into the atmosphere -- as much as that emitted by all the world's cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships combined.
Due to deforestation from logging, crop-growing and cattle grazing, Indonesia and Brazil have become the world's third- and fourth-largest carbon emitters, after China and the U.S.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, opening the conference, said defending the world's forests demanded more aggressive funding.
"Those who don't want to do anything are those who don't want to pay," he said. He reiterated his appeal for a tax on financial market transactions worldwide that could be earmarked for a global climate fund.
"Together, we will demonstrate that it is possible to achieve concrete and measurable results, as of this year, starting with ... the fight against deforestation," Sarkozy said. He called the Copenhagen conference "frustrating."
France, Norway and four other countries pledged an initial $3.5 billion to REDD Plus through 2012. The core coordination group established in Paris will, among other things, see where the funds are spent and ensure it is done fairly.
Minc, the Brazilian minister, said: if "we will arrive in Cancun with things that work, we won't repeat the problems of Copenhagen."
Many delegations were seeking a share of the funds and guidance about how to obtain them.
"What we need here are step-by-step guidelines to be followed to access funding," said Wandoso Sisnanto, an adviser for Indonesia's Forest Ministry.
"After Copenhagen, we have had no chance to talk ... and now we can work with each other, coordinate. It's really worthwhile to again build trust among us," he said.
Many funding programs are in the works, and individual countries are moving ahead with their own programs to fight deforestation and educate local populations who live off forests -- estimated at more than 1 billion worldwide -- to do so in a sustainable way.