WORLD NEWS

Leaders vow to protect forests, plug methane leaks at COP26

Nov 2, 2021, 10:33 AM
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the World Leaders' Summit "Accelerating Clean Techno...
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the World Leaders' Summit "Accelerating Clean Technology Innovation and Deployment" session on day three of COP26 on November 02, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. COP26 is the 2021 climate summit in Glasgow. It is the 26th "Conference of the Parties" and represents a gathering of all the countries signed on to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Climate Agreement. The aim of this year's conference is to commit countries to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — World leaders promised to protect Earth’s forests, cut methane emissions and help South Africa wean itself off coal at the U.N. climate summit Tuesday — part of a flurry of deals intended to avert catastrophic global warming.

Britain hailed the commitment by over 100 countries to end deforestation in the coming decade as the first big achievement of the conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow, known as COP26 — but experts noted such promises have been made and broken before.

The U.K. government said it has received commitments from leaders representing more than 85% of the world’s forests to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. Among them are several countries with massive forests, including Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the United States.

More than $19 billion in public and private funds have been pledged toward the plan.

“With today’s unprecedented pledges, we will have a chance to end humanity’s long history as nature’s conqueror, and instead become its custodian,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. “Let’s end this great chainsaw massacre by making conservation do what we know it can do, and that is deliver long-term sustainable jobs and growth as well.”

Experts and observers said fulfilling the pledge will be critical to limiting climate change, but many noted that such grand promises have been made in the past — to little effect.

“Signing the declaration is the easy part,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said on Twitter. “It is essential that it is implemented now for people and planet.”

Alison Hoare, a senior research fellow at political think tank Chatham House, said world leaders promised in 2014 to end deforestation by 2030, “but since then deforestation has accelerated across many countries.”

Forests are important ecosystems and provide a critical way of absorbing carbon dioxide — the main greenhouse gas — from the atmosphere. But the value of wood as a commodity and the growing demand for agricultural and pastoral land are leading to widespread and often illegal felling of forests, particularly in developing countries.

“We are delighted to see Indigenous Peoples mentioned in the forest deal announced today,” said Joseph Itongwa Mukumo, an Indigenous Walikale and activist from Congo.

He called for governments and businesses to recognize the effective role Indigenous communities play in preventing deforestation.

Luciana Tellez Chavez, an environmental researcher at Human Right Watch, said the agreement contains “quite a lot of really positive elements.”

The EU, Britain and the U.S. are making progress on restricting imports of goods linked to deforestation and human rights abuses, “and it’s really interesting to see China and Brazil signing up to a statement that suggests that’s a goal,” she said.

But she noted that Brazil’s public statements don’t yet line up with its domestic policies and warned that the deal could be used by some countries to “greenwash” their image.

The Brazilian government has been eager to project itself as a responsible environmental steward in the wake of surging deforestation and fires in the Amazon rainforest and Pantanal wetlands that sparked global outrage and threats of divestment in recent years. But critics caution that its promises should be viewed with skepticism, and the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, is an outspoken proponent of developing the Amazon.

Brian Rohan, head of forests at environmental law charity ClientEarth, said that to succeed, the pledge “needs teeth.” He said that “declaring ‘legal’ deforestation to be exempt is a false solution.”

The founder of Amazon — the company, not the rainforest — announced separately that his philanthropic fund is devoting $2 billion to fight climate change through landscape restoration and the transformation of agricultural systems.

“We must conserve what we have, restore what we’ve lost, and grow what we need in harmony with nature,” Jeff Bezos said.

About 130 world leaders are in Glasgow for what host Britain says is the last realistic chance to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels — the goal the world set in Paris six years ago.

Increased warming over coming decades would melt much of the planet’s ice, raise global sea levels and greatly increase the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather, scientists say.

On Monday, the leaders heard stark warnings from officials and activists alike about those dangers. A day later, the British government said commitments made by governments so far were “very encouraging.”

But Johnson’s spokesman, Max Blain, cautioned: “We are not complacent. This is not a done deal by any means.”

On Tuesday, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden launched a plan to reduce methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming. The announcement was part of a broader effort with the European Union and other nations to reduce overall methane emissions worldwide by 30% by 2030.

Clamping down on methane flaring and leaks from oil wells and gas pipelines — the focus of the Biden plan — is considered one of the easiest ways to cut emissions. Reducing methane produced from agriculture, in particular by belching cows, is a trickier matter.

Helen Mountford, a climate expert at the World Resources Institute, said the agreement “sets a strong  floor in terms of the ambition we need globally.”

Separately, the United States, Britain, France and Germany announce a plan to provide funds and expertise to help South Africa phase out coal, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

South Africa, which gets about 90% of its electricity from coal-fired plants, will receive about $8.5 billion in loans and grants over five years to roll out more renewable energy.

The announcements were not part of the formal negotiations taking place in Glasgow, but rather a reflection of the efforts by many countries to meet previously agreed targets.

But campaigners say the world’s biggest carbon emitters need to do much more. Earth has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit). Current projections based on planned emissions cuts over the next decade are for it to hit 2.7C (4.9F) by the year 2100.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg told a rally outside the high-security climate venue that the talk inside was just “ blah blah blah” and would achieve little.

___

Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

World News

This 19th century vampire-slaying kit was owned by Lord William Malcolm Hailey. (Credit: Hansons Au...
Emmy Abbassi, CNN

Antique vampire-slaying kit sparks international bidding war at auction

A vampire-slaying kit once owned by a British aristocrat sparked an international bidding war before selling for six times its estimated price.
1 day ago
This undated image made available Monday, July 4, 2022, by the press office of the Autonomous Provi...
PAOLO SANTALUCIA and NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press

Body parts, gear found on Italian glacier after avalanche

A huge chunk of the Marmolada glacier cleaved off Sunday, sending torrents of ice, rock and debris down the mountainside onto unsuspecting hikers below.
1 day ago
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - JULY 04: Police at Copenhagen shopping center, Fields, where a shooter attack...
Susanne Gargiulo, Kim Norgaard, Pierre Meilhan, Jorge Engels, Tara Subramaniam and Jonny Hallam, CNN

Suspect in fatal Copenhagen mall shooting is remanded in psychiatric facility for 24 days, police say

A man arrested on suspicion of killing three people and wounding several others during a shooting at a shopping mall in Copenhagen is being remanded in a psychiatric facility for 24 days.
2 days ago
Fire burns at a shopping mall after it was struck by a missile on July 03, 2022 in Sloviansk, Ukrai...
FRANCESCA EBEL, Associated Press

Putin declares victory in eastern Ukraine region of Luhansk

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday declared victory in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, one day after Ukrainian forces withdrew from their last remaining bulwark of resistance in the province.
2 days ago
This undated image made available Monday, July 4, 2022, by the press office of the Autonomous Provi...
FRANCES D'EMILIO Associated Press

Rain hampers search for missing in Italian glacier avalanche

Heavy rain was hampering the search in Italy for those unaccounted for — perhaps as many 15 — a day after an enormous chunk of an Alpine glacier broke off and slammed into hikers.
2 days ago
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 04: People view the flooded Windsor Bridge along the Hawkesbury River in t...
Associated Press

After 3 feet of rain, 32,000 in Sydney area may need to flee

More than 30,000 residents of Sydney have been told to evacuate or prepare to abandon their homes.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Leaders vow to protect forests, plug methane leaks at COP26