First COP26 decision: World leaders vow to end deforestation by 2030

First COP26 decision: World leaders vow to end deforestation by 2030
The deforestation in the Amazon forest. Credit: WWF Brazil/Michael Dantas

World leaders have vowed to end deforestation by 2030 to better protect the climate as part of the first decision made on Tuesday at COP26 in Glasgow.

The joint declaration to protect forests globally will be adopted by 105 countries that together cover 86% of the world’s forests. Belgium will also sign the deal.

“We commit to working collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation,” a statement from the British government, which is hosting the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), announced.



At the moment, an area the size of 27 football fields is lost every minute to deforestation, while forests that have been significantly damaged can even start emitting CO2, further contributing to global warming.

Although the decision has been welcomed by climate experts and activists, it is feared the promise will have the same limited outcome as the 2014 ‘New York Declaration on Forests,’ in which many countries vowed to half deforestation by 2020 and end it by 2030, but which so far has failed to slow deforestation in a significant way.

The fact that the pact will also be signed by countries, such as Brazil, which has been criticised for speeding up deforestation by destroying large parts of the Amazon rainforest, also means very little, according to Belgian climate activist Anuna De Wever.

“They are probably only signing because the promise is not binding. It also means that we will be able to keep on chopping for decades, while we know that our forests are one of the greatest tools we have for fighting the climate battle,” she told The Brussels Times.

€16.5 billion to be invested

The decision was announced during COP26’s ‘Action on Forests and Land Use’ event, which brought together governments, companies, financial actors, and non-state leaders to discuss forests and land use.

During the meeting, the critical role of forests in achieving sustainable development goals was reiterated, while governments recognised that the way land is used must be reconsidered and that further transformative action is needed in this field.

To conserve forests and accelerate their restoration, leaders promised to facilitate more sustainable trade, help make forests more resilient, redesign or implement new policies and national legislation to incentivise sustainability and increase investment and financial support for these efforts, among others.

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“This is essential to meeting the Paris Agreement goals, including reducing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C,” the statement read.

A total of $19.2 billion (around €16.5 billion) is expected to be injected into the initiative through public and private funding, of which some funding will go to developing countries to restore damaged land, tackle wildfires and support indigenous communities.

On Tuesday afternoon, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will be holding his speech at the Climate summit in Glasgow, during which world leaders aim to set more ambitious goals to slow down global warming.

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