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GREAT CHAINSAW MASSACRE: Deforestation has been a key focus at COP26


On the second day of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, 110 nations – covering 85% of the world’s forests – signed a declaration to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030.

Boris Johnson has hailed a pledge by more than 100 international leaders to end the “great chainsaw massacre” of the world’s forests.

The Prime Minister said the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C cannot be achieved without protecting the natural environment and ending the “devastating” loss of forests which are the “lungs of our planet”.

He said it is essential to do so in a way that safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples while opening up opportunities for sustainable economic development.

“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,” he said.

“Today is not just a vital win in the struggle to contain global temperature increases, it is also a huge economic opportunity.

“This is the long-term sustainable path to maintaining to ending the loss of our forests, protecting our sacred biodiversity and helping to keep alive the ambition of 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.”

Downing Street said the pledges have been backed by £8.75 billion of public funding with a further £5.3 billion in private investment.

It includes 2 billion US dollars (£1.47 billion) from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for land restoration in Africa – double what he previously committed just a day earlier at an event with the Prince of Wales.

Speaking at the COP26 climate summit on Tuesday, Charles called for the “re-engineering” of the world’s financial and economic system to disincentivise deforestation and reward countries for the pursuit of a “forest-positive economy”.

He said countries could learn from the “profound intuitive wisdom” of the indigenous people who inhabit the forests.

“The virtuous circle of nature is something the world’s indigenous people hold sacred and understand only too well,” he said.

“By contrast we seem to have lost that vital sixth sense which should have prevented us from abusing it in the first place.”

The deforestation initiative was also backed by US President Joe Biden, who said forests have the potential to reduce carbon globally by more than a third.

“We need to approach this issue with the same seriousness of process as decarbonising our economy.

“We’re going to work to ensure markets recognise the true economic value of natural carbon sinks and motivate governments, landowners and stakeholders to prioritise conservation,” he said, adding that there will be work to ensure sustainable supply chains.

The land covered by the agreement covers spans an area of more than 13 million square miles – from the northern forests of Canada and Russia to the tropical rain forests of Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Paul de Zylva, senior sustainability analyst at Friends of the Earth, said the test of the declaration will be whether it cuts the funding of ecologically damaging development.

“Banks and governments purporting to protect the world’s forests will be judged by whether they stop financing harmful development projects, as well as putting a stop to rearing cattle and crops like soy, which have driven the dreadful demise of forests, often with human rights abuses,” he said.

Meanwhile, the US and EU are launching an initiative aimed at driving global efforts to reduce emissions of methane, a powerful but relatively short-lived greenhouse gas which comes from sources including fossil fuel extraction and livestock farming, as a significant short-term contribution to climate action.

Dozens of heads of state were taking part in the launch of the pledge, which commits countries to cut their emissions of the gas by 30% by 2030.

The announcements are part of efforts at the COP26 climate summit in a range of sectors, characterised by Mr Johnson as “coal, cars, cash and trees”, to drive momentum on reducing emissions, alongside national plans by countries to cut climate-warming pollution in the next decade.

Current national action plans to curb emissions leave the world way off track to meet global goals to keep temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and to aim for a less dangerous 1.5C limit.

Countries at Cop26 are under pressure to keep the 1.5C goal in reach, deliver on climate finance to help poorer nations tackle the crisis, and finalise parts of the global Paris climate treaty.

Cop26 will not close the gap between the action needed and what countries have promised, even with countries such as India bringing forward new commitments on the first day of the talks, so there will also be a push to negotiate a road map to increasing ambition in the next decade.

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