UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow: A Real Plan Against Deforestation?

Status: 02.11.2021 5:51 p.m.

100 states signed a pact in Glasgow to stop the destruction of forests from 2030. Host Johnson launched the initiative and hails it as unparalleled. But the agreement is not binding.

By Christoph Prössl, ARD-Studio London

Even before the COP26 climate conference began in Glasgow, Boris Johnson made it clear that the fight against climate change depends on preserving the world’s forests. At several press conferences, the British Prime Minister and host made it clear which four points are important from his point of view: coal, cars, money and trees. So now he has presented an initiative to protect the forest in Glasgow.

Christoph Prössl
ARD-Studio London

More than 100 heads of state and government committed themselves to intensifying the fight against the destruction of forests at the climate conference – including Brazil, Russia, Canada and the USA. Deforestation is to be stopped by 2030. “If the international community wants to achieve the 1.5-degree target and wants to support countries affected by climate change, then the world’s forests must be protected,” said Johnson.

Environmentalists have doubts

In principle, experts agree with this statement. When forests are cleared, large amounts of CO2 are released. The State Secretary in the Federal Environment Ministry, Jochen Flasbarth, welcomed the agreement. “Without the protection of the forests, we have absolutely no chance of getting our planet on a 1.5-degree target path and limiting the temperature increases. For this we need the forests because they store carbon dioxide.”

But the initiative is not binding, which NGOs criticized. For example, Susanne Winter, Forest Program Manager at WWF. “Today’s climate and biodiversity crisis needs much faster and more binding measures than can be achieved here through voluntary action,” she said. Today’s initiative would be credible and effective if it were quickly reflected in nationally binding rules. “This is especially important because deforestation is responsible for around 15 to 20 percent of human carbon releases.”

The British government described the project as “unprecedented”. However, around 200 participants at a UN climate change meeting in New York announced in 2014 that they would significantly halt deforestation by 2020 and stop it by 2030. Nevertheless, the deforestation continues unchecked.

80 countries want to reduce methane emissions

On the third day of the climate conference, numerous heads of state and government again spoke in Glasgow and expressed their views on their plans to combat climate change. State Secretary Flasbarth criticized the fact that China’s head of state did not travel to Glasgow. China’s role is disappointing. Nevertheless, it is necessary to continue the dialogue with China.

Representatives from 80 countries also signed an initiative at the climate conference to reduce methane emissions. The gas makes a particular contribution to global warming.

Germany also announced that it would support South Africa to phase out coal. The federal government is providing around 700 million euros for this purpose. The partnership was announced jointly with the UK, USA, France and the EU. A total of 8.5 billion US dollars will be made available to promote the expansion of renewable energies in South Africa and to renew power grids.

Criticism of Premier Johnson’s forest initiative

Christoph Prössl, ARD London, November 2nd, 2021 5:07 pm


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