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Less of this ... Liberia is one of the countries to sign the Declaration, and will aim to end deforestation by 2020. Photo: Global Witness.
Less of this ... Liberia is one of the countries to sign the Declaration, and will aim to end deforestation by 2020. Photo: Global Witness.
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UN: deforestation to halve by 2020, end by 2030

The Ecologist

24th September 2014

At the New York Climate Summit, an international agreement has been struck to halve, then end deforestation around the world. It has the support of major forest countries, multinational corporations, forest campaign groups and indigenous peoples.

The initiative would avoid between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year by 2030 - equivalent to the carbon emissions produced by the one billion cars currently on the world's roads.

Dozens of Governments, businesses, civil society and indigenous peoples participating in the United Nations Climate Summit in New York have pledged to halve deforestation by 2020 and to end within the following decade.

The New York Declaration on Forests, a non-legally binding political agreement, calls for the restoration of more than 350 million hectares of forests and croplands, an area greater than the size of India.

"Forests are not only a critical part of the climate solution - they hold multiple benefits for all members of society", said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "The New York Declaration aims to reduce more climate pollution each year than the United States emits annually"

Deforestation is a significant contributor to climate change. Trees, which store carbon, release it when they are burned during slash-and-burn land clearing of forests, for example.

If it works as expected, the initiative would avoid between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year by 2030. That is equivalent to removing the carbon emissions produced by the one billion cars that are currently on the world's roads.

The pledge in full

Signatories include nations, regions, Indigenous Peoples, corporations and NGOs.

Major forest nations include Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guyana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Philippines, the USA and Vietnam. Although Brazil did not sign, however its states of Acre and Amazonas did.

Collectively they pledged to:

  • At least halve the rate of loss of natural forests globally by 2020 and strive to end natural forest loss by 2030.
  • Support and help meet the private-sector goal of eliminating deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities such as palm oil, soy, paper and beef products by no later than 2020, recognizing that many companies have even more ambitious targets.
  • Significantly reduce deforestation derived from other economic sectors by 2020.
  • Support alternatives to deforestation driven by basic needs (such as subsistence farming and reliance on fuel wood for energy) in ways that alleviate poverty and promote sustainable and equitable development.
  • Restore 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2020 and significantly increase the rate of global restoration thereafter, which would restore at least an additional 200 million hectares by 2030.
  • Include ambitious, quantitative forest conservation and restoration targets for 2030 in the post-2015 global development framework, as part of new international sustainable development goals.
  • Agree in 2015 to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as part of a post-2020 global climate agreement, in accordance with internationally agreed rules and consistent with the goal of not exceeding 2°C warming.
  • Provide support for the development and implementation of strategies to reduce forest emissions.
  • Reward countries and jurisdictions that, by taking action, reduce forest emissions - particularly through public policies to scale-up payments for verified emission reductions and private-sector sourcing of commodities.
  • Strengthen forest governance, transparency and the rule of law, while also empowering communities and recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples, especially those pertaining to their lands and resources.


Backed by major palm oil and food companies

Also supporting the Declaration are 20 global food companies, most recently Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme, which announced their pledges to deforestation-free sourcing policies of palm oil.

The world's largest palm oil companies - Wilmar, Golden Agri-Resources and Cargill - also committed to work together to implement and join the Indonesian Business Council in asking incoming Indonesian President Joko Widodo to support their efforts through legislation and policies.

Taken together, the share of palm oil under zero deforestation commitments has grown from 0 to about 60% in the last year, with the potential to reduce up to 450 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually by 2020.

That is the equivalent of 2 billion tonnes in the period through 2020.

Other advances

Among other announcements, 26 governors from Peru and Liberia presented new forest policies and pledged to cut deforestation by 80%.

An important side-deal was also struck between Norway and Liberia, which is to become the first nation in Africa to completely stop cutting down its trees in return for development aid. Norway will pay the Ebola-stricken West African country $150m (£91.4m) to stop deforestation by 2020, designating 30% of its forests as 'protected areas'.

Meanwhile the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Guatemala, Uganda and several other countries are set to make national pledges to restore more than 30 million hectares of degraded lands.

The Consumer Goods Forum, a coalition of 400 companies, also called on Governments to pass a legally binding climate deal in Paris in 2015 that includes REDD+, including large-scale payments to countries that reduce deforestation.

 

 


 

Principal source: The UN.

 

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