COP26, 100 countries promise to stop deforestation by 2030

One hundred nations at COP26 in Glasgow made a promise to end deforestation by 2030. NGOs say this commitment is not good enough.

A first signal of hope from COP26 in Glasgow. On the afternoon of Monday, 1st November, the leaders of 100 countries attending the 26th United Nations global climate conference, made a commitment to put a stop to the processes of deforestation and land degradation, between now and 2030.

85 per cent of the Earth’s forests are in these 100 countries

This is a considerable commitment, also and especially by reason of the countries that made it: the list includes the US, China, Russia, Germany, France, and the UK. Most importantly, it includes Brazil, which is home to most of the Amazon rainforest, Canada (taiga or boreal forest), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (tropical rainforest). Overall, the countries in question are home to over 85 per cent of the world’s forests.

As part of the agreement, twelve nations in particular also committed to jointly allocating 12 billion dollars of public funding between 2021 and 2025 to forest protection projects. A further 7.2 billion in private investments shall also be added to this. In particular, 1.5 billion will be earmarked for the conservation of the Congo rainforest basin, a 3.7-million-square-kilometre region that embraces six African nations.

brazil, deforestation
A girl walking on a felled tree trunk in the Brazilian state of Para, a region that’s undergoing constant deforestation © Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Financial commitments on deforestation at COP26

Meanwhile, CEOs and presidents of over 30 financial institutions, representing a total of over 8.8 trillion dollars of managed assets, will also commit to a series of activities aimed at limiting deforestation.

According to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leader of the COP26 host nation, this is the “greatest step forward in the protection of Earth’s forests ever achieved in our generation”. Johnson added that the agreement is “a chance to put an end to the long history of humanity treating nature as a prey, and start a history of humanity that becomes its guardian“.

Greenpeace: “Green light for another decade of deforestation”

Non-governmental organisations have a different take on the matter. Greenpeace, for example, has said that the 2030 deadline is “too far in the future”, essentially giving the green light for “another decade” of deforestation. Carolina Pasquali, from Greenpeace Brazil, added that “Indigenous Peoples are calling for 80% of the Amazon to be protected by 2025″. The Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) has stated that it will monitor progress and whether the funds are actually made available.

“We must protect those parts of the Amazon rainforest that still haven’t reached their tipping point,” says Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director of Amazon Watch. “The best way to do this is to ensure that indigenous rights are respected. What we need to do is protect 80 per cent of Amazonia by 2025”.

In fact, the biggest surprise was that Jair Bolsonaro‘s government agreed to the terms, given that it has repeatedly proven not to be inclined to defend the Amazon rainforest. This is why it’s vital to strictly monitor what is done between now and 2030. The risk is that this decade will be seen as an opportunity to keep exploiting forest resources as much as possible. What’s more, it will be important to understand whether, when the day comes, the promise will actually be kept, because all commitments made in international conferences are not legally binding.

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