Opinion: President Biden Offers Hope for Zero Global Deforestation by 2030, Kevin Conrad, Executive Director, CfRN

Wednesday, January 25, 2021, New York; As we go into 2021 and reflect on the fragility of our planet, a new US presidency offers real hope that we can halt the climate emergency. The discovery of Covid-19 vaccines in less than 12 months (and not 10 years as first estimated) is a wonderful example of how humanity can respond when faced with a global crisis. Similarly, radical positive change in this decade is crucial if we are to halt the climate devastation that we all see across our different countries on a daily basis now. Just like Covid-19, droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, and severe flooding will not stop on their own. Humanity must act.

Last week’s announcement that President Biden is bringing the United States back into the Paris Agreement was wonderful news. We now have a better chance to solve the climate emergency, if we move fast enough. We must cut the planet’s emissions by 50% now.

Accelerating the energy transition and making renewable energy ubiquitous is fundamental. Re-building the global economy offers developed countries the opportunity to transition to 100% renewable energy more rapidly and developing countries the chance to leapfrog fossil fuel-driven power. Together, we can fully decarbonize our electricity systems and buildings using solar and wind; we can help industry recover from this recession with less of a thirst for fossil fuels; and encourage people with the means to buy a car, choose electric.

But to get to 50% decarbonization by 2030 will take more. Tropical rainforests and land are the critical climate solutions that developing countries offer to the world, and without which our 2030 goal will not be possible. Combining an energy transition with our planet’s natural solutions gives us the best shot at aligning to the elusive 1.5 degrees pathway in time. This is not news; we have known this for a long time. So, we welcome President Biden’s renewed recognition of tropical rainforests and his multi-billion dollar commitment to them. They are one of the largest and lowest-cost emission reductions for the planet. And our 52-country coalition represents billions of acres of those rainforests. From Papua New Guinea to the Congo to Costa Rica, our forests store the greenhouse gases that the world emits and stops them from entering the atmosphere to create the warming.

For over 15 years, our countries have been committed to stopping deforestation and preserving these forests within the means that they have. In the context of the Paris Agreement, they led on the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) mechanism, which promises to reward their countries’ efforts for years of conserving forests – but without more than a promise until those results come through. Their communities understand the importance of rainforests and have committed to their conservation over a decade ago. They are now delivering in the rainforests of the Congo-basin, the rich interior of Guyana, and northern forests of Papua New Guinea despite the effect of forest fires and pressures from growing populations. For example, the Congo’s tropical rainforest sequesters 600 million metric tonnes more carbon dioxide per year than it emits, equivalent to about one-third of the CO2 emissions from all U.S. transportation, according to a new report by World Resources Institute.

Over 8 billion tons of carbon reductions, or the results, have already been registered by UNFCCC, and in the next 12 months, countries in Africa, Latin America, Caribbean, South America, and the Pacific Basin will be reporting over 100 million tons of greenhouse gas reductions, verified by the world’s climate scientists – the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

But the urgency we face now means that we must move faster and be more impactful in conserving the rainforests. Our countries remain committed to lead, but they cannot do this alone.We must make REDD+ successful. The governments of our countries have spent over a decade promoting REDD+ to their citizens. It’s  now imperative that results-based financing reaches them for the is conservation. With the renewed commitment and support of the United States we can end global deforestation in time to tackle the climate emergency.

 

Kevin Conrad,

Executive Director

Coalition for Rainforest Nations

 


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