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This aerial photo taken on March 3, 2018 shows a palm oil plantation in a protected area of the Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

This aerial photo taken on March 3, 2018 shows a palm oil plantation in a protected area of the Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. (Photo: Januar/AFP via Getty Images)

Greenpeace Dismisses COP27 Deforestation Pact as 'Carbon Trickery'

"This partnership is nothing but a green light for eight more years of forest destruction, with little respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil

Greenpeace on Tuesday denounced the so-called Forest and Climate Leaders' Partnership launched by more than two dozen nations at the COP27 summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, arguing that the pact is unlikely to stop deforestation.

"A robust partnership could go a long way to provide the necessary resources to protect, conserve, and restore the world's forests, but this partnership is nothing but a green light for eight more years of forest destruction, with little respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities," Victorine Che Thōner of Greenpeace International said in a statement.

According to Thōner, the alliance "gives polluters a license to do more business as usual through carbon trickery instead of advancing true climate action."

The countries that formed the Forest and Climate Leaders' Partnership (FCLP), which is led by Ghana and the United States, argued Monday that it "would ensure they hold each other accountable for a pledge to end deforestation by 2030 and announced billions of dollars to finance their efforts," Reuters reported.

During last year's COP26 meeting in Scotland, 145 governments signed the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration "to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation" by the end of the decade.

However, as the annual Forest Declaration Assessment showed two weeks ago, "not a single global indicator is on track to meet these 2030 goals of stopping forest loss and degradation and restoring 350 million hectares of forest landscape."

Alok Sharma, a Conservative Party member of the British Parliament who presided over COP26, said in a statement that the FCLP "is a critical next step to collectively deliver on this promise and help keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C alive."

The United Kingdom, Japan, Pakistan, the Republic of Congo, and other countries that collectively account for just over one-third of the world's forests are part of the alliance, which plans to gather twice per year to measure progress.

Scientists have long warned that averting the worst consequences of the climate and biodiversity crises hinges in part on putting an end to clear-cutting, which is being driven by corporations looking to make space for cattle ranching, monocropping, and other harmful practices.

But according to Greenpeace, the unveiling of the new pact "was mainly a progress review from 2021 in support of carbon markets as a mechanism for funding investment in protecting existing carbon sinks."

"We must look beyond the needs of greedy businesses to effectively deliver on non-market approaches for nature protection."

The progressive advocacy group said that the FCLP "further advocates for tree planting as an approach to forest protection."

As the latest Forest Declaration Assessment documented, 26,000 square miles of forest—an area roughly equivalent to Ireland—were destroyed around the world in 2021, harming biodiverse ecosystems and releasing into the atmosphere 3.8 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution, or about as much as the European Union generates each year.

Even though "notable progress in afforestation and reforestation efforts over the last two decades have resulted in new forest new forest areas the size of Peru, with net gains of forest cover in 36 countries... overall losses exceeded gains over the same period, resulting in a net loss of 100 million hectares globally," the report stated.

Moreover, "forest cover gains, through reforestation and afforestation activities, do not compensate for forest loss in terms of carbon storage, biodiversity, or ecosystem services," the report explained. "Therefore, highest priority efforts should be directed towards safeguarding primary forests from losses in the first place."

Reuters reported Tuesday that "around 22% of the $12 billion in public money pledged for forests by 2025, funds committed in Glasgow, had so far been disbursed."

This sum pales in comparison to the $460 billion per year that the Forest Declaration Assessment estimates is needed to protect, restore, and improve forests on a global scale.

At this week's inaugural meeting of the FCLP, Germany vowed to double its annual forest financing to roughly $2 billion through 2025 and Colombia pledged to spend $200 million per year for the next 20 years to help protect the Amazon rainforest, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, the news outlet noted:

Private companies announced $3.6 billion in extra money. They include investment firm SouthBridge Group, creating a $2 billion fund for restoration efforts in Africa, the region with the most tropical rainforest after South America.

Volkswagen Group and H&M Group signed up to a separate initiative, the LEAF Coalition, launched at COP26, in which governments and companies pay countries with tropical and subtropical forests for emissions reductions.

Thōner, for her part, said that "at COP27, we must look beyond the needs of greedy businesses to effectively deliver on non-market approaches for nature protection as outlined in article 6.8 of the Paris agreement."

"Across the world, measures to protect and restore natural ecosystems and to sustainably manage cultivated land are crucial to fight global heating and prevent species loss," said Thōner. "Real commitments are needed now to protect and restore nature along with the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities."

Notably, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo are not part of the FCLP.

Instead, the pair of countries and Indonesia—which is still considering joining the FCLP—are mulling the creation of a strategic alliance to guide conservation efforts, The Guardian reported over the weekend.

Together, the three nations—home to the Amazon, Congo Basin, and Borneo and Sumatra forests, respectively—contain 52% of the globe's remaining primary tropical rainforests, which are at risk due to commercial logging, mining, and illegal exploitation.

During his first speech as president-elect of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva vowed to curb deforestation in the Amazon, parts of which recently passed a key tipping point after the nation's outgoing far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, spent years accelerating its destruction.

Fulfilling a campaign pledge, Lula "is already working with DRC and Indonesia to protect all tropical forests on the planet," Carlos Nobre, a Brazilian Earth system scientist and co-chair of the Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA), told The Guardian.

Lula "also reiterated the commitment of his government to get to zero deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon during his presidency," said Nobre, who added that SPA plans to propose an "arc of restoration" covering roughly 4,000 square miles, primarily in the southern Amazon near the Andes.

"Implementing such a project will protect the Amazon rainforest from reaching the tipping point and also will remove more than 1 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere for several decades—a mandatory goal to combat the climate emergency," Nobre said.

Referring to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, a cartel that coordinates oil production and pricing, Avaaz campaign director Oscar Soria told The Guardian that Lula's proposed alliance could be an "OPEC for rainforests."

"This deal could be a promising step forward, as long as Indigenous peoples and local communities are fully consulted in the process and their rights and leadership respected," Soria continued. "These three ecosystems are critical for the ecological stability of the world, and the answer for these forests to thrive lies with the people that live in them."


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