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Three miles (seven kilometers) from the climate talks’ principal negotiating venue, Walmart chairman Rob Walton attended a function that addressed using everything from cattle in Brazil to palm oil in Indonesia as sustainable sourcing for the giant retailer founded by his father.

Walmart says it plans to reduce its carbon footprint over five years to what would be the equivalent of taking 3.8 million cars off the road. Much of that will come by reducing the energy used by suppliers in China, where most of its nonfood products come from.

“People are spending less time on the negotiations and shifting more focus on concrete action,” said Stephen Cochran, vice president of the New York-based nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund, which works with Walmart in China and in the U.S.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t still a need for a global accord, however, Cochran added.

Such an agreement would set common rules and firm up guarantees that green investment pays.

Financier George Soros discussed a private rescue plan for depleted Indonesian peatlands. The former jungle areas, which were cleared for rice paddies or palm oil, release huge amounts of stored carbon as they dry out and burn.

Marcel Silvius of Wetlands International, who accompanied Soros to Indonesia earlier this year, said several billionaires were applying to Jakarta for concessions for degraded land. By blocking drainage channels and allowing the peatlands to re-flood, natural forests may regenerate, and local communities could be enlisted to manage the new growth.

Investors can make returns on carbon credits under the forestry strategy outlined in the Cancun Agreements. But some people, including Soros, see it as philanthropy from which they expect no return, Silvius said. He said 6 million to 7.5 million acres (2.5 million to 3 million hectares) of land, an area the size of the Netherlands, could be restored in Indonesia.

For its part, Denmark announced that it will donate $15 million over three years to the Global Green Growth Initiative, founded six months ago by South Korea to help countries develop eco-friendly technologies. Seoul kicked in $30 million, or $10 million a year.

The fund already has projects in Ethiopia and Cambodia, with more in the pipeline in Indonesia and the Philippines, said Rae-kwon Chung, a director of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

The initiative “is the machinery for promoting green growth,” and is designed to promote a lifestyle totally different from the fossil-fuel economies of the West _ “a paradigm shift,” Chung said.

“This is more meaningful than what’s happening here,” said Chung, a former South Korean climate negotiator, nodding toward the negotiating rooms.

In the U.S., statewide trading strategies are in place and expanding internationally, even as Congress fails to act on climate legislation.

California reached agreements this year with the southern Mexican state of Chiapas and Brazil’s Acre province for pilot projects on forest preservation in exchange for carbon credits. Emissions trading was a pillar of California’s 2006 climate bill, which called for reducing pollution to 1990 levels by 2020.