Representatives of more than 100 countries participating this Tuesday in COP26, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in 2021, reached an agreement for the next decade consisting of curb and reverse deforestation as well as reduce methane emissions by 30%, one of the gases that cause global warming.
The COP26 Climate Change Summit takes place in the Scottish city of Glasgow, at United Kingdom, and has the participation of almost 200 world leaders, including the president of the United States, Joe Biden; the French president, Emanuel Macron; the Argentine head of state, Alberto Fernández; Scotland’s Chief Minister Nicola Sturgeon; and the Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi, among others.
Among the most important absences are those of the presidents of China, Xi Jinping; Russia, Vladimir Putin; Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, and Pope Francis.
A brake on deforestation
This Tuesday, leaders from more than 100 countries that are home to 85% of the world’s forests They agreed, as the first great achievement of COP26, to halt and reverse deforestation in this decade.
As described in the plan that will seek to put a stop to deforestation, advanced on Monday night by the British Government and confirmed this Tuesday before the climate summit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, forests and jungles absorb almost a third of the global carbon dioxide emitted by the burning of fossil fuels.
The problem is that every minute a forest area equivalent to 27 soccer fields is lost. In this sense, it was noted that 23% of global carbon dioxide emissions come from activities such as logging, deforestation and agriculture, while 1.6 billion people – almost 25% of the world’s population – depend on forests for their subsistence.
“These large abundant ecosystems are the lungs of our planet and essential for our own survival, “said Boris Johnson, who defined the agreement as a” historic “pact and an” unparalleled opportunity “to create jobs.” With today’s unprecedented promises, we will have the opportunity to end humanity’s long history as the conqueror of nature and instead become its custodian“he added.
Who signed it
Among the nations that are part of the agreement are the United States, Canada, Russia, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All of them will commit to $ 12 billion of public funds to protect and restore forests, along with $ 7.2 billion of private investment.
The president of the United States, Joe Biden, announced that his country will contribute to the initiative 9,000 million dollars, in order to “conserve and restore our forests”. In addition to protecting its own forests and those of the world, the United States will also make efforts to “motivate governments, landowners and other stakeholders to prioritize conservation,” according to the Democratic president.
For his part, President of Colombia, Iván Duque, said that his country will not only participate in the initiative but also it will declare 30% of its territory as a protected area next year. In Colombia “we are not going to wait until 2030, but today we commit to protect 30% of our territory as a protected area in 2022, because we have to act now,” he said.
The presidents of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who did not attend COP26, expressed their support for the deforestation agreement in pre-recorded videos. “Our country has about 20% of the world’s forest lands. We have taken the strongest and most vigorous measures to conserve them,” Putin said in his video, recalling that Russia committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.
Bolsonaro, who has been accused of allowing a huge loss of the Amazon rainforest during his tenure, urged all countries “to defend all forests, committing adequate resources, for the benefit of all.” Their participation generated diverse reactions: while some considered it positive, although they warned that a previous agreement of 2014 failed to stop deforestation at all and that it is imperative to comply with the commitments, others – among them Greenpeace – denounced the announcement as a ” green light for another decade of forest destruction. “
Reduce methane emissions
This Tuesday, the European Union and United States at COP26 they promoted an alliance to reduce emissions of methane (CH4) by 30% this decade, a powerful greenhouse gas less known than carbon dioxide.
According to the promoters of the proposal, meeting this objective would allow limit the rise in temperatures by 0.2 ° C by 2050 and avoid 200,000 premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of emergency hospital admissions for asthma and the loss of 20 million tons of crops per year.
“Around 30% of global warming since the Industrial Revolution is due to methane emissions”, but “it is one of the gases that we can cut faster. And doing so will immediately slow down climate change,” he explained in the presentation of the initiative was the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Methane comes mainly from seeing youderyou, the sector winsderoy from the energy sector: It is this last sector, said the official, the one that presents “undoubtedly more potential for reduction.”
This gas is up to “80 times more destructive than CO2 and is fully responsible for 0.5 degrees of the 1.1 ° C warming we have today,” said, in turn, the United States special envoy against climate change, John Kerry.
Joe Biden, for his part, warned that “about half of the heat we experience” comes from methane emissions. The US president recalled that when the initiative was announced last September only the EU and nine countries had joined it, while now there are more than 100 who have expressed their support – which represent around 70% of the emissions of that initiative. gas – including Colombia, Togo, Vietnam, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Micronesia, Chile, Indonesia and Morocco. On the other hand, the three big emitters, Russia, India and China, did not join.
“What we do between now and 2030 is going to have a significant impact on whether or not we can meet our long-term commitments,” said Biden, who hoped that it could go “beyond” that expected reduction of 30% in sales. CH4 emissions, which the United States will try to reduce in its agricultural sector and in its gas pipelines.
The pact seeks not only to reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere, but also to develop “best available inventory methodologies to quantify methane emissions.”.