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Brazil declines to sign UN deforestation pledge

The launch of the UN’s new pledge to slow global deforestation at this week’s Climate Summit in New York was overshadowed yesterday by Brazil’s failure to sign up to it.

The innovative public-private partnership of multinationals, governments, civil society and indigenous peoples was endorsed by countries in the developed and developing world – including the United States, the EU, and a large number of tropical forest countries – as well as by multinationals from the food (Unilever), paper (Asia Pulp and Paper Group) and finance industries.

However Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest, declined to sign the declaration citing the measures to end illegal deforestation had been drafted behind closed doors at the United Nations without its participation. A claim refuted by the UN.

The New York Declaration pledges to cut the loss of forests in half by 2020 and end it a decade later in 2030 – a move that will eliminate the emission of between 4.5bn and 8.8bn tons of carbon dioxide each year.

The Declaration is meant to form part of a pact for adoption next year at the Paris climate talks.

The Declaration also calls for the restoration of over 350 million hectares of forests and croplands, an area greater than the size of India, which would bring significant climate benefits and take pressure off primary forests.

“I asked for countries and companies to bring bold pledges, and here they are,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon. “The New York Declaration aims to reduce more climate pollution each year than the United States emits annually, and it doesn’t stop there. Forests are not only a critical part of the climate solution – the actions agreed today will reduce poverty, enhance food security, improve the rule of law, secure the rights of indigenous peoples and benefit communities around the world.”

To support the New York Declaration, several specific commitments to action were announced. This included three of the world’s largest palm oil companies – Wilmar, Golden Agri-Resources and Cargill, all of which recently announced deforestation-free sourcing policies and who jointly make up more than half of global palm oil trade – committing to work together on implementation, and joined the Indonesian Business Council in asking incoming Indonesian President Joko Widodo to support their efforts through legislation and policies.

While Germany, Norway and the UK said they would push for large-scale economic incentives as part of the Paris climate talks, and in the next couple of years pledged to enter into up to 20 new programmes to pay countries for reduced deforestation rates, if credible programs were put forward.

Picture credit: © Kutt Niinepuu | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Global | Deforestation

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