Over 100 Leaders Commit to Reversing Deforestation by 2030

Over 100 Leaders Commit to Reversing Deforestation by 2030

Today at the COP26 conference in Glasgow, over 100 world leaders pledged to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. The nations who agreed to this commitment represent 85% of the earth's forests and include Canada, Russia, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the US, and China. According to CNN, as part of the pledge, "twelve donor countries have committed £8.75 billion ($12 billion) of public funds to protection and restoration, alongside £5.3 billion ($7.2 billion) of private investment."

Euronews: COP26 - World leaders agree on historic deforestation deal, November 2, 2021.

Why This Matters

COP26 didn't begin with a boost from the G20 Summit in Rome last weekend which failed to result in any new climate commitments, but momentum is building through the first two days. The Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forests and Land Use is a huge leap forward in climate negotiations, particularly with regards to forestry. Protecting the world's forests will prevent emissions from logging and tree degradation, which contributes about 11% of the world's total carbon emissions. The pledge will also boost the role of indigenous communities in saving forest land.

Some observers remain cautious. A similar pledge was announced in 2014, but none of the commitment's goals were achieved -- in fact, deforestation increased. But Rainforest Foundation Norway said in a statement:

This is the largest amount of forest funding ever pledged and it comes at a crucial time for the world's rainforests. The new commitments have the potential to speed up necessary action from both governments and companies. We hope this funding will spur the political changes needed.

Bloomberg Quicktake: The Brazilian Amazon's Tipping Point May Already Be Here, September 28, 2021.

Ending "The Great Chainsaw Massacre" of the World's Forests

The UK Government as hosts of COP26, announced the pledge on Monday evening. Today, after leaders pledged, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, "Let's end this great chainsaw massacre by making conservation do what we know it can do, and that is deliver long-term sustainable jobs and growth as well." President Biden followed suit, formally introducing the agreement and emphasizing that "The United States is going to lead by example at home" with its 30x30 plan.

Colombia committed to protecting 30% of its lands by 2022, eight years ahead of many other nations like the US who have made commitments to protect 30% of land by 2030. Brazil joined in as well, a surprise given their recent major uptick in forest clearance and destruction of 4045 square miles of forest in the past year alone -- an area the size of the state of Connecticut.

The momentum around forest restoration today was showcased at a side event with the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), where ministers representing 32 African countries called on $2 billion in investment by COP27 from actors in the room like the Bezos Earth Fund. "Simply measuring GDP for wealth does not do justice to nature," said Akinwumi Adesina, director of the African Development Bank. "It's about time we weigh the GDP of nations based on their positive or negative impact on nature."

Al Jazeera: Has Brazil’s Amazon reached a point of no return?, September 23, 2021

CBS News: Complicit - The Amazon Fires, February 27, 2021.

Center for Western Priorities: Why America must protect 30x30 (with Sen. Tom Udall, Dr. Enric Sala), June 18, 2020.