COP26 deal to end deforestation not fast or bold enough

Tuesday November 02, 2021

Real solutions in Canada, Amazonia must prioritize Indigenous-led conservation efforts

GLASGOW — Today, world leaders agreed to stop deforestation by 2030 and committed $19 billion USD towards that goal over five years. This aspirational agreement, known as the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use, has been signed by more than 100 countries -- including Brazil, Canada, a range of Amazonian countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, China, Russia, and the US -- as well as the European Union. 

Tyson Miller, Stand.earth Forest Programs Director, said in response to the announcement:

“While the £14 billion laid out in this declaration looks significant at first glance, it falls short of what’s needed to meet the climate change targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which is the baseline for stopping the worst effects of the crisis. Meeting the 2015 goals would mean spending an estimated $45 billion to $460 billion a year to protect, restore, and enhance forests. While there are some encouraging and positive elements connected to this announcement, we need more ambition, bolder action, a quicker timeline, and a lot more funding if it’s going to be effective.”

Amazonia

“This Declaration’s timeline crucially does not address what is needed in the Amazonian region, which is to end deforestation immediately. Tipping point science tells us that the Amazon biome starts to unravel towards a savannah when it crosses a threshold of 20-25% deforestation or high disturbance. The Amazonian biome is already in the midst of this tipping point, so ending deforestation nine years from now is far too long of a timeline. Amazonian nations and the international community need to put an end to deforestation in Amazonia immediately in order to address this crisis. The 80% conservation target and 2025 timeline laid out in IUCN Motion 129 needs to be a focus-point for real Amazon protection. A new international coalition -- with the Pan-Amazonian indigenous federation, COICA -- is at the heart of this call for 80% protection by 2025 and has defined a range of critical priorities, including the creation of Amazon Biome Emergency Action Plans, expanding Indigenous rights and territories, conditioned debt forgiveness, clean financing and supply-chains and much moreNew research Stand.earth and its allies will present tomorrow at COP26 shows that there are over 200 million hectares of primary forests in the Amazonian region that are largely undisturbed and not under any form of protection. These areas are in need of immediate protection if this Declaration has any hopes of being more than just optics."

Canada

“This agreement doesn’t address primary forest degradation from logging as long as trees are replanted after logging, However, logging in primary forests is highly problematic and any agreements to end deforestation must also include forest degradation from logging primary and old growth forests. Primary forests represent only ⅓ of forests globally (and shrinking) and need to be prioritized for protection. As a country with a huge proportion of slow growing primary and old growth forests. Canada needs to address this problem. Over 1,000 people have been arrested in British Columbia this year in attempts to save ancient trees that are thousands of years old. The iconic caribou, or reindeer, is an indicator species of the health of the Canadian boreal forest -- which spans across the northern half of the country. Caribou are a threatened species on a path towards decline and local extinction and is a reminder that this old forest ecosystem is being fragmented and logged at astounding rates. The Canadian government can and should require that 65% of boreal forests be kept intact in order to ensure the survival of this species -- they only need the political will to do it."

Biomass

“Finally, the UK, Japan, and others signatories to this declaration need to stop false climate solutions like burning wood instead of coal. Earlier this year, more than 500 top scientists and economistsissued a letter urging global leaders to stop harvesting and burning forests in place of coal.The UK pioneered scaling up 'renewable' energy in large part by burning wood instead of coal at the utility scale and has spent billions subsidizing the bioenergy industry. The problem is that burning wood releases more GHG emissions than coal at the smokestack and it is impacting standing forests in the US, Canada, Estonia, Vietnam, and a range of other countries around the world - increasingly from the global South. In Canada, the world’s second largest wood pellet exporter, this industry fragments and degrades critical primary and old growth forests vital for storing carbon. Stand.earth just completed a mapping analysis and found that nearly 2 million hectares of old growth are at risk and in the haul zones of the wood pellet facilities in British Columbia (including 560,000  hectares of threatened species habitat of caribou (reindeer) - primarily being exported to the UK, Japan, and the Netherlands.” 

Visit our website for a full list of events Stand.earth is participating in at COP26. 

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Media contact: Tyson Miller, Forest Programs Director, tyson@stand.earth, +1 828 279 2343 (Eastern Time)