More than 100 countries pledged on Tuesday to end deforestation within the next decade, a promise experts say would be crucial to limiting climate change but has been made and broken in the past.
Britain hailed 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 had received commitments from heads of government representing more than 85% of the world’s forests to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.
More than $19 billion in public and private funds have been pledged for the plan, backed by countries including Brazil, China, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the United States.
“With unprecedented commitments today, we have a chance to end humanity’s long history as the conqueror of nature, and instead become its custodian,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
At COP26, more than 100 countries promise to end deforestation
Alison Hoare, a senior fellow at the policy think tank Chatham House, said world leaders promised in 2014 to end deforestation by 2030, “but deforestation has since 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, Britain and the United States are making progress in restricting 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 an objective”, he pointed.
In any case, the researcher pointed out that Brazil’s public statements are still not in line with its internal policies and warned that some countries could use the agreement to whitewash their image.
The Brazilian government has made a point of presenting itself as a responsible environmental leader after a surge in deforestation and fires in the Amazon and Pantanal wetlands has sparked international outrage and divestment threats in recent years. Critical voices warned that his promises should be met with skepticism.
The country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, openly advocates increasing development in the Amazon.
Some 130 heads of government are in Glasgow for the COP26 summit, which host Britain says is the last realistic chance to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the goal set six years ago. in Paris.
Leaders heard grim warnings Monday from officials and activists alike. Johnson described global warming as a “doomsday device” tied to humanity. The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, told his colleagues that the human being was “digging his own grave”. And Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley spoke on behalf of the vulnerable island nations, adding a moral rebuke, 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 leaders to “rise above the politics of the day and achieve true statism.”
“Of course, the benefits of these actions will not be there for all of us here today to enjoy: none of us will live forever,” he said in a video message played Monday night at a rally at the museum. Kelvingrove in Glasgow. “But we are not doing 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 had planned 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 that 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 the big emitters of carbon dioxide need to do much more. The Earth has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit). Current forecasts based on announced emissions cuts over the next decade indicate warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 Fahrenheit) by 2100.
At a rally outside the fortified summit venue, climate activist Greta Thunberg said talks at the summit were just “blah blah blah” and would not accomplish much.
“Change is not going to come from within,” he told some of the thousands of protesters who flocked to Glasgow to make their voices heard. “That is not leadership, this is leadership. This is what leadership looks like.”