Glasgow, Scotland (NWN) – More than 100 countries on Tuesday pledged to end deforestation, which scientists say is a major driver of climate change..
Britain hailed the commitment as the first major achievement of the UN climate summit in Glasgow. But campaigners say they need to look in detail – such promises have been made and broken in the past.
The UK government said it has received a commitment from leaders representing more than 85% of the world’s forests to stop and reverse deforestation by 2030.
More than $19 billion in public and private funds have been pledged for the plan, which is backed by countries including Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the United States.
Forests are considered important ecosystems and an important way to absorb carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere.
But the value of timber as a commodity and the increasing demand for agricultural and pastoral land are leading to widespread and often illegal felling of forests, especially in developing countries.
Campaign group Human Rights Watch cautioned that similar agreements in the past have failed to take effect.
Luciana Tellez Chavez, an environmental researcher with the group, said strengthening the rights of indigenous peoples would help prevent deforestation and should be part of the agreement.
Alison Hoare, a senior research fellow at political think tank Chatham House, said world leaders promised in 2014 to end deforestation by 2030, “but since then deforestation has accelerated in many countries.”
“This new pledge recognizes the range of actions needed to protect our forests, including finance, support for rural livelihoods, and strong trade policies,” she said. “For this to be successful, inclusive processes and equitable legal frameworks will be needed, and governments must work with civil society, businesses and indigenous peoples to agree, monitor and enforce them.”
Around 130 world leaders are in Glasgow for the COP26 summit, which hosts Britain say is the last realistic chance to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – a target the world set six years ago in Paris .
On Monday, leaders heard a stern warning from officials and activists alike. Prime Minister Boris Johnson described global warming as “an instrument of doom” that engulfs humanity. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told his colleagues that humans are “digging their own graves.” And Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley, speaking for the vulnerable island nations, added to the moral turmoil, warning leaders not to “allow the path of greed and selfishness to sow the seeds of our common destruction.”
Climate activist Greta Thunberg told a rally outside the high-security climate site that the talk inside was just “blah blah blah.” And you will get less.
“Change is not going to come from there,” he told some of the thousands of protesters who came to Glasgow to raise their voices. “It’s not leadership, it’s leadership. That’s what leadership looks like.”
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