World Leaders Pledge Billions to Restore Earth's Forests

More than 120 heads of state agreed to reverse deforestation by 2030 at the COP26 climate summit, pledging €16.4 billion to fulfill their promise.

By Costas Vasilopoulos
Nov. 8, 2021 16:20 UTC

The world’s forests were a focal point of the COP26 cli­mate sum­mit in Glasgow, where more than 120 world lead­ers vowed to end and reverse defor­esta­tion no later than 2030.

A total of 133 coun­tries, includ­ing Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, together rep­re­sent­ing 85 per­cent of the world’s wood­land, have com­mit­ted to the com­mon cause of restor­ing the planet’s forests.

We have to stop the dev­as­tat­ing loss of our forests. We will have a chance to end the role of human­ity as nature’s con­queror, and instead become nature’s cus­to­dian.- Boris Johnson, U.K. Prime Minister
See Also:Nearly One-Third of Wild Tree Species Are Threatened with Extinction, Report Warns

The forests cov­ered by all the endorsers stretch more than 3.5 bil­lion hectares and account for 90 per­cent of the total Earth’s for­est land.

The lead­ers also agreed to allo­cate more than €16.4 bil­lion in com­bined pub­lic and pri­vate funds to back their pledge.

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 lead­ers said in a joint dec­la­ra­tion.

We urge all lead­ers to join forces in a sus­tain­able land use tran­si­tion,” the dec­la­ra­tion fur­ther read. 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.”

According to the non­profit World Resources Institute, the Earth’s forests, char­ac­ter­ized as the cli­mate buffers,” have the abil­ity to absorb around 30 per­cent of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions.

However, the world’s wood­lands are quickly declin­ing, with 25.8 mil­lion hectares of for­est, an area larger than the United Kingdom, lost in 2020 alone.

We have to stop the dev­as­tat­ing loss of our forests,” said United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is host­ing the sum­mit. We will have a chance to end the role of human­ity as nature’s con­queror, and instead become nature’s cus­to­dian.”

Experts wel­comed the lead­ers’ pledge, how­ever, appeared skep­ti­cal about the out­come of the vow cit­ing sim­i­lar unsuc­cess­ful ini­tia­tives of the past.

It is good news to have a polit­i­cal com­mit­ment to end defor­esta­tion from so many coun­tries, and sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing to move for­ward on that jour­ney,” said Simon Lewis, an expert on cli­mate and forests at University College London.

Lewis noted that the world has been here before” with a sim­i­lar dec­la­ra­tion in New York in 2014, which failed to slow defor­esta­tion at all.”

Others won­dered whether the time remain­ing until 2030 is ade­quate to avert the loss of the world’s forests.

We’re fac­ing a cli­mate emer­gency, so giv­ing our­selves another 10 years to address this prob­lem does­n’t quite seem con­sis­tent with that,” said Nigel Sizer, an activist and for­mer pres­i­dent of the Rainforest Alliance.

But maybe this is real­is­tic and the best that they [the lead­ers] can achieve,” he added.

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