More than 30 countries set the first-ever deadline on Tuesday to end deforestation by 2030, but the feasibility of such a goal was eroded when a key player, Brazil, said it would not join.
The United States, Canada and the entire European Union signed on to a declaration to halve forest loss by 2020 and eliminate deforestation entirely by 2030.
“This is the family photo we have been looking for decades,” said Charles McNeill, a senior environmental policy adviser for the U.N. Development Program. “The forest issue is where everyone comes together.”
But, like in any family, there were signs of dysfunction before the agreement was formally unveiled Tuesday. Brazil said it would not endorse the pledge, complaining it was not included in the preparation process.
Brazil’s position also highlighted the divisions between countries as they prepare to continue formal negotiations later this year in Peru in the hopes of meeting a late 2015 deadline for a new international treaty.
“Unfortunately, we were not consulted. But I think that it’s impossible to think that you can have a global forest initiative without Brazil on board. It doesn’t make sense,” Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said Monday.
If the goal is met, the United Nations says it would be the equivalent of taking every car in the world off the road. The group also pledged to restore more than 1 million square miles of forest worldwide by 2030.
Norway pledged to spend 350 million dollars to protect forests in Peru and another 100 million in Liberia. Dozens of companies, environmental groups and indigenous groups signed on.
However without Brazil, a halt to deforestation would nearly be impossible.
“A deforestation agreement without Brazil is like a carbon reduction plan without the United States,” said Paul Wapner, professor of international environmental policy at American University.
Marina Blasts Rousseff
Environmentalist and presidential opposition candidate Marina Silva blasted Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff for not supporting an initiative to put a deadline on deforestation supported by 32 countries this Tuesday during the Climate summit in New York.
“Brazil is one of the countries with major forests, we have 60% of our territory covered with forests and woods and Dilma did not sign in support of protecting those forests, which is regrettable and disappointing,” said Silva during a political rally ahead of the first ballot scheduled for October 5.
Under the terms of the statement supported by 32 countries the commitment is to reduce the loss of forests by 2020 and definitively end with deforestation by 2030. It also includes a pledge to recover 350 million hectares of deforested land to help combat climate change.
However at the climate summit Rousseff in her speech said that “Brazil does not announce promises, but rather results” and went on to describe some of the achievements in reducing deforestation in the Amazon region.
Rousseff said that in the last ten years deforestation in Brazil was cut down by 79% following the implementation of a plan in 2003 for the prevention and control of deforestation in the Amazon.
The plan was the initiative and implemented precisely by Marina Silva, who at the time was Environment minister (20023/2008), under the administration of president Lula da Silva,
But despite these efforts mentioned by Rousseff before the climate summit, deforestation in Brazil actually increased in the last year and reached 5.891 square kilometers between August 2012 and July 2013, according to official data from the Brazilian government.
Opinion polls are showing that Rousseff and Silva are virtually tied in the two round presidential election scheduled for October 5 and the run off on October 26.
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