According to a new analysis, the world remains a long way from its goal of halting forest loss by the end of the decade despite progress in tackling deforestation last year.
The Forest Declaration assessment, released on Monday, provides a comprehensive overview of the health of global forests one year after more than 140 countries representing 90% of the world’s forests engaged end deforestation by 2030.
“In order to achieve the 2030 zero deforestation goal, we would need a 10% reduction in global deforestation each year from 2021 to 2030,” Erin Matson, senior consultant at Climate Focus, one of the organizations that produces the annual report, told reporters on a press call. “In 2021, deforestation decreased by 6.3% – a good start, but not on track with a 10% trajectory.
“The picture is not yet rosy,” she added.
The deforestation pact at last year’s UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, was widely celebrated, despite many reasons to be skeptical that it would lead to meaningful change. In 2014, dozens of countries signed on to the New York Declaration on Forests, setting the goal of halving deforestation by 2020 and ending it by 2030. This commitment has done little to help slow down the destruction of forests.
A year after COP26 in Scotland, the world is already sinking into another hole. Globally, 6.8 million hectares of forest – an area roughly the size of Ireland – were lost in 2021, according to the report. In the tropics, intact primary forests have declined by 3.1%.
“We are rapidly heading towards another round of hollow commitments and vanished forests,” said David Gibbs, associate researcher at the World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch, in a statement accompanying the release of the Declaration’s assessment of forests.
The report, officially known as the New York Statement on Assessing Forest Progress, used data on deforestation from 2018 to 2020 to establish a baseline for comparison.
One of the biggest obstacles to controlling forest loss is the severe lack of investment. Protecting and restoring forest ecosystems globally would cost up to $460 billion a year. According to the report, an average of $2.3 billion is spent each year, less than 1% of what is needed.
“COP26 funding pledges could increase that amount by up to four times, to $9.5 billion a year,” but details remain scarce, Matson said. “That would still be only a fraction of the funding needed.”
As part of the COP26 initiative, President Joe Biden has pledged up to $9 billion through 2030 to fight global deforestation; however, this funding has yet to gain congressional approval.
“Preserving forests and other ecosystems can and should play an important role in achieving our ambitious climate goals as part of the net zero emissions strategy we all have,” Biden said at the year’s summit. last. “The United States will lead by example at home and support other forest and developing countries in establishing and carrying out ambitious actions to conserve and restore these carbon sinks.”
The forest-rich countries that signed on to last year’s pledge include Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia and Russia. John Kerrythe Biden administration’s special climate envoy, publicly applauded Brazil for its new commitments at the summit, including ending illegal deforestation by 2028 – two years ahead of schedule.
But as experts Told HuffPost at the time, there was little reason to take Brazil’s deforestation pledge seriously. Monday’s report highlights that the South American nation continues to head in the wrong direction under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change denier who has overseen record deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
“We are rapidly heading into another series of hollow engagements and vanished forests.”
– David Gibbs, research associate at the World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch
Brazil continues to be the world’s largest contributor to deforestation, with a 3% increase in the rate of deforestation last year, according to the assessment.
“This is a country where we have seen that when solutions are put in place – where there are strong government mandates, private sector action, full societal engagement – there can be a significant reduction in deforestation,” Matson said, noting the drop in deforestation. in Brazil between 2004 and 2012. “Obviously since then that progress has been significantly reversed and reversed.”
Deforestation rates also increased in Bolivia, Paraguay and the Democratic Republic of Congo last year.
The report is not without positive points. Tropical Asia is the only region on track to meet the 2030 target, according to the assessment. This is largely thanks to progress in Indonesia, the only country to have reduced deforestation rates in the past five years, and Malaysia. In Africa, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire reduced deforestation by 13% and 47% in 2021, respectively, through a concerted effort to boost the sustainability of the cocoa trade.
The problem with falling behind on the latest deforestation target so soon is that the difference will have to be made up, Matson said. And 2030 is only eight years away.
“It gets harder every year to meet that gross deforestation reduction goal for every year we don’t,” Matson said. “Our report recommends that governments take much stronger action to regulate private sector players, to level the playing field.”