World leaders, including Brazil and China, have agreed to stop and reverse deforestation by 2030
At COP26, world leaders discussed a new agreement for stopping deforestation. The new agreement, signed by Brazil, China, and several other countries, is currently known as the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration On Forests and Land Use.
What does the new climate agreement say?
The available text of the new agreement proposes a collective focus on forests, separate to the Paris Agreement. The document says: “We therefore 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.”
The Declaration suggests six courses of action for all signing countries to take.
1. Sustainable agriculture policies are a must
Among them, are the suggestions that world leaders implement and redesign policies to enhance “sustainable agriculture” and “food security.”
Right now, floods in urban areas are expected to grow 80% by 2030. Floods, especially in the Global South, control conditions for food security as agriculture depends on a reliable rainfall pattern.
“The complexity of the Earth system is daunting, with dependencies and feedback loops across many processes and scales,” said Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, UCI Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering.
2. Make the sustainability profitable
Another suggestion for reversing deforestation by 2030 is the aligning of profit with sustainability goals. The Declaration suggests that “robust policies” can help bridge the gap between the existing economy and a green, circular one.
The Declaration also proposes that “the development of profitable, sustainable agriculture” is done while “recognising the rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Professor Nicole Boivin, Director of the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, said: “We need to recognize that some types of human activity – particularly more traditional land management practices that we see in the archaeological record or practiced today by many Indigenous peoples – are actually really supportive of biodiversity.”
President Jair Bolsonaro, leader of Brazil, has agreed to the Glasgow Declaration.
President Bolsonaro has allowed mining and deforestation, in the name of economic advancement – which put Indigenous communities at high risk of infection and death, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. He is being accused of genocide by some Indigenous activists.
His track record with the Amazon rainforest and the communities that reside in it, has been questionable. He even relaxed environmental laws in 2019. Will he be able to implement these elements of the Declaration?
How crucial are forests to climate change?
The simple answer is that they’re essential for protecting the planet.
According to Global Forest Watch, forests could be 30% of the solution for keeping global warming below 2°. Climate predictions by the UN have the world on track to hit a rise of 2.7° – in the absence of new, binding agreements.
Forests are carbon sinks, which means that the trees and foliage soak up carbon emissions – storing them, naturally. The Amazon rainforest was one of the biggest carbon sinks until 2021, at which point deforestation and degradation led to a reversal in status.
Normally, Brazil and China are the most reluctant to sign on climate agreements.
With the Paris Agreement and now deforestation-specific Declaration, there is a surge of hope with a lack of faith. It is unclear if world leaders will execute their commitments in time, despite the historic nature of the agreement.
Professor Stephen Sitch, Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, commented: “The Brazilian Amazon as a whole has lost some of its biomass, and therefore released carbon. We all know the importance of Amazon deforestation for global climate change.”