According to new research, the Glasgow Declaration (signed by world leaders at COP26 in 2021), is falling short of it’s pledge to reduce world deforestation by 2030. In 2022, approximately 11 football pitches of forest were lost each minute, with Brazil being the main offender in rainforest destruction.
These older, carbon rich tropical forests are key in helping prevent the climate crisis. Due to the density of the forest, the amount of carbon trapped within the ecosystems would cause a huge increase in emissions should they be burned or cleared. Those who signed the Glasgow Declaration in 2021 committed to halt deforestation. However, despite this, 2022 saw an increase in the clearing or burning of tropical forests.
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Rainforests in Brazil, Republic of Congo and Indonesia absorb a massive amount of greenhouse gases. According to new data gathered by the University of Maryland, these areas lost 10% more rainforest in 2022 than in 2021, with just over 4m hectares (nearly 16,000 sq. miles) felled or burned in total. The amount of carbon dioxide released from this is equivalent to the annual fossil fuel emissions of India. These forests are not only critical for reducing carbon emissions, but also are vitally important for biodiversity and millions of people’s livelihoods.
Rod Taylor, from the World Resources Institute which runs the Global Forest Watch states, “the question is, are we on track to halt deforestation by 2030? And the short answer is a simple no.” He goes on to add, “globally, we are far off track and trending in the wrong direction. Our analysis shows that global deforestation in 2022 was over 1 million hectares above the level needed to be on track to zero deforestation by 2030.”
In Brazil, loss of tropical forest increased by over 14% in 2022. Bolivia saw an increase in deforestation by 33% and Ghana had a massive increase of 71% in forest losses.
However, there are countries that are making an active effort to halt deforestation and reach the global 2030 target. Indonesia has drastically reduced it’s rainforest loss, with 83% of it’s palm oil companies now operating under no deforestation, no peatland and no exploitation commitments. Additionally, a new president in Brazil has committed to it’s deforestation reduction pledge by 2030.
“There’s an urgency to get a peak and decline in deforestation, even more urgent than the peak and decline in carbon emissions,” said Rod Taylor from WRI, “because once you lose forests, they’re just so much harder to recover. They’re kind of irrecoverable assets.” His comments come as, despite the commitments of Indonesia and now Brazil, there are still many hurdles left to reach the deforestation goals of 2030.