- BBC News World
More than 100 global leaders have pledged on Tuesday to end deforestation by 2030, in the first major agreement of the COP26 Climate Summit held in Glasgow, Scotland.
Subsequently, at least 80 countries committed to reduce by 30% methane gas emissions for the same year.
In the first agreement, Brazil, where large portions of the Amazon rainforest have been cut down, is among the signatory countries.
This agreement includes financing that reaches US $ 19,000 million from private and public funds.
On the methane deal, US President Joe Biden said that could be revolutionary.
But not all is optimism about the plan against deforestation: experts have welcomed the global pact, but warned that a similar agreement signed in 2014 “failed in its attempt to stop deforestation” and those commitments, already made, must be fulfilled. .
Now why is it important to stop deforestation? Because forests cannot absorb the necessary amounts of CO2 to reduce climate change.
The summit, which will last for two weeks and takes place in the Scottish city, is seen as crucial to controlling climate change.
The countries that have signed this agreement -including Canada, Brazil, Russia, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, the United States, the Democratic Republic of the Congo- cover 85% of the forests on the planet.
Much of that money will be given to developing countries to restore lands affected by deforestation, end forest fires, and support indigenous communities that protect these territories.
In addition, the governments of 28 nations also pledged to end deforestation for the production of food for export – such as meat – or other agricultural products such as palm oil, soybeans and cocoa.
These types of industries are responsible for part of the loss of forests because they are cut down to make room for livestock or to create enough area for monocultures.
More than 30 major financial firms worldwide have pledged not to finance more projects that are related to deforestation.
A fund will also be created to protect the second largest tropical forest in the world: the Congo basin.
For Professor Simon Lewis, from University College London, the signing of the agreement is “good news that there is a political commitment to end deforestation in so many countries and, above all, that there is money to support that effort.”
“However, that agreement had already been made in 2014, and it has done nothing to stop deforestation today.”
What went wrong in 2014?
- The New York Declaration on Forests was a voluntary and legally non-binding agreement on deforestation in 2014
- It targeted half deforestation by 2020 and halting it by 2030, with 40 governments finally joining. But some key countries like Brazil and Russia were not among them.
- But the deal failed, according to a 2019 report, which said deforestation was still continuing at an alarming rate.
The key countries
Perhaps the big difference with the deforestation pact signed in Scotland is the countries that are involved.
For instance, Indonesia is the main exporter of palm oil in the world, a product that can be found from shampoo to cakes.
However, producing it means tens of thousands of hectares cut down to plant the palm where this oil is extracted.
Meanwhile, another signatory, Russia, has almost a fifth of the trees on the planet, which manage to absorb 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year.
And there is also Brazil, where a large part of the Amazon is located, the largest jungle in the world, which has suffered accelerated deforestation since the arrival of Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency of this country.
On this point a question has arisen: Can Bolsonaro be trusted to carry out this plan?
UK Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We will be safe when countries commit to the plan.”
“The last time a similar pact was made, in 2014, there were neither Brazil, nor Russia, nor China. For this reason, the signing of Brazil represents a great step towards this objective. ”
US President Joe Biden said he “is confident” that the objectives of this pact can be achieved.
“What we have to do is add intentions and do the right thing. We can do it.”
Ana Yang, executive director of Chatham House Sustainability Accelerator, who co-wrote the Rethinking the Brazilian Amazon report, said: “This agreement involves more countries, more players and more money. But the key is in the details that we still need to see.”
Yang said it was a “big building block” to keep global temperature increases below 1.5 ° C.
To which he added that many people who live in the Amazon, even in its urban areas, depend on the forest for their livelihood and they need support to find new income, he added.
Tuntiak Katan, from the Coordination of Indigenous Communities of the Amazon Basin, welcomed the agreement and said the funds should be invested in supporting indigenous communities who can manage and protect forests.
Katan, an indigenous Shuar from Ecuador, told the BBC that indigenous communities globally protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity, but face serious threats to their lives.
“For years we have maintained our way of life and that has protected ecosystems and forests. Without us, no money or politics can stop climate change“, said.
Trees are one of the main defenses in a warming world. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, acting like so-called carbon pits. They absorb about a third of the global CO2 emitted each year.
Currently, every minute you lose an area of forest the size of 27 football fields.
Depleted forests can also begin to release CO2. If too many trees are cut down, scientists worry that the planet will reach a tipping point that triggers abrupt and unpredictable climate change.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.