COP26 deforestation-ending commitment must hold leaders accountable (commentary)

It is a commendable goal to end and reverse deforestation within a decade, one which if met would protect both people and the planet, but this is a crisis now. The Amazon is hurtling towards a “tipping point” beyond which it may be lost. In Brazil, Indigenous communities are facing an existential threat from miners, loggers and land grabbers emboldened by the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro.

In Southeast Asia, orangutans, including the Tapanuli orangutan only discovered in 2017, are on the brink of extinction as a result of forest loss, along with a host of other irreplaceable endangered species. Globally, deforestation accounts for a significant chunk of all carbon emissions. Ending and reversing this onslaught would be a huge step forwards.

If world leaders are truly serious about ending this crisis, they can and must prove it now. In recent years President Bolsonaro has been the chief architect of destruction in the Amazon, and the horrific abuses of Indigenous people it has brought with it. If he truly wishes to protect it, he does not need a new international agreement to do so; he could start by reversing his own decisions to unleash a wave of devastation on this essential ecosystem and its inhabitants.

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Steve Trent