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Cop26. The world promises (again) not to slaughter its forests anymore

During Cop26 in Glasgow, Scotland, more than one hundred countries including France, which are home to 85% of the world’s forests, pledged to act to stop deforestation, this Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Explanations.

Good news at last ?

A giant leap, yes, as deforestation continues to devastate the equivalent of twenty-seven football fields per minute on the planet … In Glasgow, a hundred leaders, whose countries are home to 85% of the world’s forest (twenty times France), have pledged to stop their degradation by 2030. Among them, China, Canada, the United States, Russia and even Brazil, where the Amazon is suffering as never before under the yoke of far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Also read. REPORTING. Cop26 in Scotland: Orkney Islands leave peat for tidal turbines

Twenty-eight countries, from which three quarters of the most land-intensive foodstuffs (palm oil, cocoa, soybeans, etc.) come from, also promise to produce in a more equitable manner. And thirty financial institutions, including Aviva and Axa, swear to no longer invest in activities linked to deforestation. It was time. Between 2013 and 2019, in Europe alone, the banks poured 7 billion euros into six food groups that the “clearing” of trees hardly bothered …

Also read. Cop26. They traveled hundreds of kilometers to Glasgow “for a less gloomy future”

Isn’t it too late?

The agreement is essential because the top priority must be to protect the remaining forests and other natural ecosystems, which will have direct effects on the climate and biodiversity, insists the Brazilian Alexandre Antonelli, Director of Sciences at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

Impossible to hope to keep warming below 1.5 ° C without forests, which absorb a third of CO2 spat out by fossil fuels. However, the massacre is already well advanced: according to Unesco, ten major forests now emit more carbon dioxide than they trap, including the American park of Yosemite and the Brazilian Amazon.

How to save our lungs?

Twelve countries, including France, will allocate 10.3 billion euros, to which private investors (6.3 billion) will abound to restore forests, fight fires and support the rights of the indigenous people who live there. Common sense, for Joseph Itongwa Mukumo, coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples Network for Forest Management: We represent an efficient and untapped solution to deforestation that [les politiques] could not stop on their own.

photo an agreement greeted by simone, alana and rox bordas, quechua indians from peru who came to participate in the cop26 in glasgow.  © christelle guibert

An agreement welcomed by Simone, Alana and Rox Bordas, Quechua Indians from Peru who came to participate in the Cop26, in Glasgow. © Christelle Guibert

Can we believe these promises?

Similar promises have been made several times, but never came to fruition , observes Alexandre Antonelli. In 2014, in New York, several countries and companies swore to halve deforestation before … 2020.

The account is not there and the urgency is accelerating. The most forested country in the world, Russia is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2060, but its forests will not be enough: under the effect of global warming, fires are increasing there, further increasing CO emissions.2

The European Union, the world’s second largest importer of products threatening (beef, soy, etc.) was still, in 2017, responsible for 16% of deforestation associated with trade, behind China (24%) and ahead of India (9%), the United States (7% ).

As for Brazil… It’s hard to still believe the repeatedly flouted promises of Jair Bolsonaro. But at Cop26, it is rumored that scientists continue to help their Brazilian colleagues on the sly to save what can still be saved.

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