Friday, November 27, 2015

Sputtering Corporate Effort to Save Forests Highlights a Big Issue for Paris Talks

Two new reports underscore how important Paris climate talks could be for accelerating efforts to end deforestation, a major contributor to climate change.

As global leaders begin hashing out a global warming accord in Paris beginning next week, their efforts to tackle the enormous issue of deforestation was supposed to be boosted by a heralded, business-led effort to protect the world's tropical forests and combat climate change. But that program has so far failed to deliver progress and its sluggishness serves to highlight how complex the issue is, and how many barriers stand in the way.

The New York Declaration on Forests was supposed to help halve forest loss by 2020, but an initial assessment published last week by the Amsterdam-based consulting company Climate Focus along with a group of non-governmental organizations said deforestation has not slowed in the countries that signed the pact.  Also, very few of the world's leading companies whose practices drive deforestation have changed their policies to begin to tackle the issue, according to a separate report published last week by the Global Canopy Programme.

The declaration was signed in September 2014 by 52 companies—including Unilever, Walmart and General Mills—as well as more than 30 countries and 100-plus subnational governments, indigenous groups and non-governmental organizations.  They committed to 10 goals, meant to cut the world's forest loss in half by 2020 and end it completely by 2030.

"We are not on track to end the loss of natural forests," said Charlotte Streck, director of Climate Focus.
Climate Focus reported that while there was progress in replanting trees on degraded land and an "increase in action on forests" since the declaration's signing, there are no signs that the annual rate of forest loss is slowing.  (Indonesia, which recently surpassed Brazil as the largest contributor to deforestation, was a signatory; Brazil was not.)  The Global Canopy Programme, meanwhile, found that only 8 percent of 250 "powerbroker" corporations—and less than 1 percent of the 150 leading lenders and investors in agricultural companies—have polices in place to eliminate or reduce deforestation.

Deforestation accounts for about 10 percent of global man-made emissions through the razing and burning of trees.  Because tropical forests are potent carbon sponges, stopping deforestation—and allowing damaged forests to recover—could deliver as much as 40 percent of the emissions cuts needed to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
Cutting the rate of deforestation in half, the goal of the New York declaration, would require $20 to $30 billion a year, significantly more than current pledges, which remain less than $10 billion a year, according to Boucher of the UCS.

Read more at Sputtering Corporate Effort to Save Forests Highlights a Big Issue for Paris Talks

No comments:

Post a Comment