Why should we stop deforestation? This essay is based on the analysis of the goal of ending deforestation by 2030. In 1994, 195 countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. An annual congress has been taking place since 1995 known as the Conference of Parties (COP). Parties that have signed the convention from all over the world come together and make multiple agreements for different world problems mainly affecting the environment. There has been a historic agreement known as The Paris Agreement 2015 during the UN Climate Change Conference, COP21. This is where all the parties have joined to aim and reduce the emissions of the global greenhouse gases therefore maintaining the global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees celsius, and tackle climate change problems together. Another agreement has been made in 2014 known as the New York Declaration on Forests, the goal was to reduce deforestation to 50% by 2020 and end it by 2030. Between 31st October and 12th November 2021, COP26 took place in Glasgow, Scotland. Over those couple of weeks, there have been many controversies revolving around each of the goals including ending deforestation by 2030. There have been many different opinions from praise to criticism raised by environmentalists and scientists throughout and after COP26.
Deforestation has been a major problem since the 1950s. There have been numerous debates on whether deforestation should continue or not throughout the years. Many scientists believe that deforestation should be stopped as it heavily affects wildlife and the environment. There have been reports published in 2020, warning that the world's forests are being destroyed rapidly as millions of hectares are lost every year. Cooper, et al. found in their research that ecosystems would reach a tipping point of collapse in the next decades. After reaching the tipping point, biomes would rapidly break down after another and simpler ecosystems would quickly be lost.
During COP26, more than 100 countries have promised to halt and reverse deforestation in order to protect and save the environment. These countries maintain about 85% of forests globally which is a high percentage that could help to reduce the enormous impacts of deforestation that we may face before 2030. Even though the target has been missed for the New York Declaration, many people think that this goal may be realistic as more countries have signed the agreement than in 2014 that experience the worst levels of deforestation.
After signing the deforestation pledge, Indonesia criticises the agreement. The country holds 10% of rainforests globally (Orangutan Foundation International, n.d.) but the environmental minister thinks that the plan to become zero-deforestation in 9 years is unfair and inappropriate. The foreign vice minister denied that ending deforestation by 2030 was not a part of the COP26 pledge as they interpreted the statement as developing plans for the sustainability of forest management.
In contrast, the agreement clearly suggests that other countries want to change their approaches and course of actions in order to attempt reversing this environmental disaster that is affecting everyone. The countries want to accelerate the restoration of forests therefore they have to enhance their efforts and develop a better system to help restore the forests.
However, many people, especially scientists, doubt the agreement. This is because they believe that there is not much evidence to support their aims and there are currently no implementations that could be put into place to reduce or even stop deforestation. The consequences for countries not achieving this has not been clarified within the pledge. The New York Declaration on Forests has clearly failed as there has been a 33% increase of activity in 2021. Therefore some scientists think that the target will not be achieved. They believe that we are far from achieving zero-deforestation by 2030 as the progress of accomplishing this goal would need to rapidly speed up.
On the contrary, conservation organisations such as Greenpeace that have worked hard to gain the attention and recognition of countries through activism in order for governments to concentrate on the environment crisis, are relieved that implementations will come to action. They believe that the gap between analysis and action has finally narrowed. The funding for this pledge looks very promising with a total of $19.2 billion. Most of these funds will be available in order to restore global forests. Some funds ($1.7bn) will be accessible for communities and indigenous people to help and tackle wildfires and restore land.
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