World leaders will conclude a two-day climate summit on Tuesday with a multibillion-dollar pledge to end deforestation by 2030 – a date too far away for activists who want to act sooner to save the lungs of the climate. planet.
The pledge was to be published at the UN COP26 conference, which will continue for another fortnight to try to develop national plans to prevent the most devastating impacts of global warming.
Summit chairman British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the deforestation deal was essential to the overall ambition to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“These large teeming ecosystems – these cathedrals of nature – are the lungs of our planet,” he was to say in Glasgow, according to Downing Street.
“Forests support communities, livelihoods and food supply, and absorb the carbon that we release into the atmosphere. They are essential to our very survival, ”Johnson said.
“With today’s unprecedented promises (Tuesday), we will have a chance to end humanity’s long history as the conqueror of nature, and instead become its guardian.”
The pledge is backed by nearly $ 20 billion in public and private funding, and is endorsed by more than 100 leaders representing more than 85 percent of the world’s forests, the UK government said.
Leaders include those in forest-rich Brazil and Russia, both condemned by activists for accelerating their own rates of deforestation, as well as US President Joe Biden and others.
President Joko Widodo of the resource-rich country of Indonesia has said that the rainforests, mangroves, seas and peatlands of his own archipelago are key to limiting climate change.
“We are committed to protecting these critical carbon sinks and our natural capital for future generations,” he said in a UK government statement.
“We call on all countries to support sustainable development pathways that strengthen the livelihoods of communities, especially indigenous people, women and smallholders.
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The commitment to “stop and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030” includes pledges to guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples and to recognize “their role as stewards of the forest”.
But while Johnson said it was “unprecedented,” a United Nations climate rally in New York in 2014 issued a similar statement aimed at halving the rate of deforestation by 2020 and putting it there. end by 2030.
However, trees continue to be felled on an industrial scale, especially in the Amazon under the far-right government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Almost a quarter of all human-made carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to land use activities such as logging, deforestation and agriculture.
Humans have already cut down half of all the forests on Earth, a practice doubly harmful to the climate when CO2-sucking trees are replaced by cattle or monocultures.
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Greenpeace criticized the Glasgow initiative for effectively giving the green light to “another decade of deforestation”.
“Indigenous peoples demand that 80% of the Amazon be protected by 2025, and they are right, this is what is needed,” said Carolina Pasquali, executive director of Greenpeace Brazil.
“The climate and the natural world cannot afford this deal,” she said.
Numerous studies have shown that the best way to protect the world’s forests is to keep them under the management of locals with generations of conservation knowledge.
“We will be looking for concrete evidence of a transformation in the way funds are invested,” said Tuntiak Katan Jua of indigenous organization COICA.
“If 80% of what is proposed is intended to support the land rights and proposals of indigenous and local communities, we will see a dramatic reversal of the current trend which is destroying our natural resources,” he said.