At Tuesday’s international climate summit, nations and corporations pledged to cut deforestation rates 50 percent by the end of the decade. Further, the gathered bodies also pledged to end the destruction of natural forests by 2030.
The New York Declaration on Forests was signed by the United States, all members of the E.U. and several tropical forest countries.
“Forests represent one of the largest, most cost-effective climate solutions available today,” the declaration states. “Action to conserve, sustainably manage and restore forests can contribute to economic growth, poverty alleviation, rule of law, food security, climate resilience and biodiversity conservation.”
Greenpeace International also refused to sign the declaration. Kumi Naidoo, its executive director, claims that the declaration is not forceful enough.
“Halting the global loss of natural forests by 2030 and eliminating deforestation from agricultural commodities by 2020 at the latest would mean that years of continued forest clearance still lie ahead of us,” he said. “While we are celebrating announcements on paper today, forests and forest peoples are facing imminent threats that must be averted if we want the declaration to become reality.”
Corporations Sign Palm Oil Pledge
Earlier this month, Forest Trends, a Washington-based NGO, released a report that claimed 49 percent of tropical deforestation was due to illegal agricultural clearing. One of the prime crops of this illegal industry is palm oil, whose high international demand has resulted in shrinking ecosystems and the destruction of indigenous lands.
Palm oil is used in countless everyday products and in the preparation of several popular food items. But the furor over its illegal origins has recently galvanized Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme to pledge to no longer purchase palm oil from sellers that participate in deforestation.
Cargill, the company that supplies Dunkin’ Donuts with its palm oil, was one of several multinationals that signed the UN’s Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge. Kellogg’s, Marks & Spencer, Barclays and Nestle also joined as signatories, pledging to purchase palm oil only from legitimate sources.
Liberia and Reforestation
In addition to halting deforestation, the assembled nations also agreed to participate in replanting projects. Both public and private sectors pledged to restore 150 million hectares (370 million acres) of degraded landscapes and forest areas by 2020, restoring another 200 million by 2030.
Supporters say that limiting deforestation and replanting trees will help keep average global temperatures from rising two degrees Celsius by the century’s end, an important threshold for preventing the worst effects of climate change.
To do this, countries such as Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom have promised to engage in 20 programs over the coming years to pay countries to reduce their deforestation and rebuild their forests.
Norway, in particular, has agreed to pay Liberia to become the first nation to cease all deforestation activity.
The impoverished African country, which contains 43 percent of the Upper Guinean rainforest, will receive $150 million in development aid. Norway will also provide the country assistance in creating a program to monitor and police its forests.
“We hope Liberia will be able to cut emissions and reduce poverty at the same time,” said Jens Frolich Holte, a political adviser to the Norwegian government, told the BBC during the New York summit.
“We have funded efforts in Indonesia and Brazil, but I think this is the first time we have entered a deal on a country level.”
Liberia will issue no new logging concessions until all current permits have been reviewed by an independent body.
“This partnership holds promise not only for the forest and climate; but for forest communities that have been marginalized for generations,” said Silas Siakor, a Liberian environmental campaigner.