At COP26, more than 100 countries promise an end to deforestation

More than 100 countries on Tuesday pledged to end deforestation in the next decade, a promise that experts say would be crucial to limiting climate change but has already been made and broken in the past.

Britain celebrated the pledge as the first major achievement of the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow. However, activists said they had to see the details of the pact to determine its impact.

The British government said it received commitments from heads of government representing more than 85% of the world’s forests that they would halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.

More than $ 19 billion in public and private funds have been pledged for the plan, backed by countries such as Brazil, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the United States.

“With today’s unprecedented commitments, we will have an opportunity to end humanity’s long history as the conqueror of nature, and instead become its custodian,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Forests are considered important ecosystems and an important way to absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere.

But the value of wood as a raw material and the Increasing demand for agricultural and livestock land has led to widespread and often illegal logging of forests, especially in developing countries.

“We are delighted to see the indigenous peoples mentioned in the agreement on forests announced today,” said Joseph Itongwa Mukumo, a member of the Walikale community and a Congolese activist.

He called on governments and businesses to recognize the effective work of indigenous communities to prevent deforestation.

Experts cautioned that similar deals have proven ineffective in the past.

Alison Hoare, a senior researcher at the 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.”

Still, Luciana Téllez Chávez, an environmental researcher at Human Rights Watch, noted that the agreement contained “quite a few very positive elements.”

The EU, Great Britain and the United States are making progress to restrict the import of products associated with deforestation and human rights abuses, “and it is very interesting to see China and Brazil signing an agreement that suggests that this is a goal,” he said.

In any case, the researcher pointed out that Brazil’s public statements still do not align with its internal policies and warned that some countries could use the agreement to wash their image.

The Brazilian government has been keen to present itself as a responsible environmental leader following a boom in deforestation and fires in the Amazon and the Pantanal wetlands, which sparked international outrage and threats of divestment in recent years. Critical voices cautioned that his promises should be met with skepticism. The country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, openly defends increasing development in the Amazon.

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Some 130 heads of government flocked to Glasgow for the COP26 summit, which host Britain says is the last realistic chance to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era, the target set six years ago. in Paris.

Leaders heard grim warnings Monday from officials and activists alike. Johnson described global warming as an “end-of-the-world device” tied to humanity. The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, told his colleagues that the human being was “digging his own grave.” And Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley spoke on behalf of vulnerable island nations, adding a moral rebuke by warning leaders not to “allow the path of greed and selfishness to sow the seeds of our common destruction.”

The Queen of England, Elizabeth II, urged the leaders to “Rise above the politics of the moment and achieve authentic statism.”

“Of course, the benefits of these actions will not be there for all of us who are here today to enjoy: none of us will live forever,” he said in a video message reproduced Monday night at an event at the museum of Kelvingrove, in Glasgow. “But we do not do this for ourselves, but for our children and our children’s children, and those who will follow in their footsteps.”

The 95-year-old monarch was scheduled to attend the appointment, but had to cancel the trip after her doctors said she should rest and not travel.

The British government said on Monday there were positive signs that world leaders understood the seriousness of the situation. US President Joe Biden was scheduled to present his administration’s plan on Tuesday to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming. The announcement was part of a broader effort with the European Union and other nations to reduce total methane emissions worldwide by 30% by 2030.

However, activists say that large emitters of carbon dioxide must do much more. The Earth has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit). Current projections based on announced emission cuts over the next decade indicate that it would reach a warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 Fahrenheit) by the year 2100.

Speaking at a rally outside the fortified summit venue, climate activist Greta Thunberg said the conversations in the compound were just “blah blah blah” and would not accomplish much.

“Change is not going to come from in there,” he told some of the thousands of protesters who flocked to Glasgow to make their voices heard. “This is not leadership, this is leadership. This is what leadership looks like. “

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