More than 100 countries are committed to stopping deforestation

More than 100 countries have promised to stop deforestation in the first major achievement at the UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow.
That United Kingdom, which is hosting the summit, has paid tribute. But campaigners say they need to see the details – such promises have been made and broken before.
Australia is one sign of the pledge. The UK government said it had received commitments from leaders representing more than 85 percent of the world’s forests to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.
The sun is beginning to rise over the River Clyde outside the meeting place of the UN climate summit COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. (AP)
In this archive image from 23 August 2020, cattle graze on land burned and felled by cattle farmers near Novo Progresso, Para State, Brazil. (AP)

More than $ 19 billion ($ 25.4 billion) in public and private funds has been pledged to the plan, which is supported by countries including Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the United States.

Forests are considered important ecosystems and an important way of absorbing carbon dioxide – the most important greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere.

But the value of wood as a commodity and the growing demand for agricultural and pastoral land is leading to widespread and often illegal deforestation, especially in developing countries.

The Human Rights Watch campaign group warned that similar agreements have not been effective in the past.

A photograph on 14 November 2020 published by Agent Green NGO shows an area of ​​suspected illegal deforestation in Valea Rea in Romania’s southeastern Fagaras Mountains. (AP)

Luciana Tellez Chavez, an environmental researcher at the group, said strengthening indigenous peoples’ rights would help prevent deforestation and should be part of the agreement.

Alison Hoare, senior researcher at the political think tank Chatham House, said world leaders promised in 2014 to stop deforestation by 2030, “but since then deforestation has accelerated in many countries.”

“This new promise recognizes the range of actions needed to protect our forests, including funding, support for rural livelihoods and strong trade policies,” she said. “To succeed, inclusive processes and a fair legal framework are needed, and governments must work with civil society, businesses and indigenous peoples to agree, monitor and implement them.”

About 130 world leaders are in Glasgow for the COP26 summit, which the UK says is the last realistic chance to keep global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels – the goal the world set in Paris six years ago.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is sending a video message to attendees at an evening reception to mark the opening day of COP26. (AP)

On Monday, leaders heard sharp warnings from both officials and activists. Prime Minister Boris Johnson described global warming as “a doomsday device” linked to humanity. UN Secretary-General António Guterres told his colleagues that people “dig our own graves”. And Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley, speaking for vulnerable island nations, added moral thunder and warned leaders not to “allow the path of greed and selfishness to sow the seeds of our common destruction.”

Climate activist Greta Thunberg told a meeting outside the high-security climate center that the talk inside was just “blah blah blah” and would achieve a little.

“Change does not come from within,” she told some of the thousands of protesters who have come to Glasgow to make their voices heard. “It’s not leadership, it’s leadership. This is what leadership looks like.”

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