IPS Correspondent Tharanga Yakupitiyage interviews United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Coordinator of Freshwater, Land, and Local weather Branch TIM CHRISTOPHERSEN
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 18 2019 (IPS) – From expansive evergreen forests to lush tropical forests, the Earth’s forests are disappearing on an enormous scale. While deforestation poses a big drawback to the setting and climate, timber additionally supply a solution.
After a collection of eye-opening studies from the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change (IPCC) to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) have been revealed in 2018, it was clear that international motion is extra pressing than ever to scale back emissions and conserve the setting.
Deforestation and forest degradation account for about 17 % of greenhouse fuel emissions, greater than the complete international transportation sector and second solely to the power sector.
Tropical deforestation alone accounts for eight % of the world’s annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. If it have been a rustic, it will be the world’s third-biggest emitter, just behind China and the United States of America.
Actually, in accordance with the U.N. Conference to Fight Desertification (UNCCD), the land-use sector represents between 25 to 30 % of complete international emissions.
If such forest loss continues at the present fee, it is going to be inconceivable to keep warming under two levels Celsius as pledged in the Paris Settlement.
Whereas forests characterize a quarter of all planned emissions reductions beneath Nationally Decided Contributions (NDCs) beneath the Paris Agreement, there’s still an extended option to go to fulfil these objectives.
The United Nations Programme on Decreasing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) is among the international teams working to reverse deforestation. It supports nations’ REDD+ processes, a mechanism established to promote conservation and sustainable administration of forests.
IPS spoke with UNEP’s Coordinator of Freshwater, Land, and Climate Department Tim Christophersen about the issues and options surrounding deforestation. Excerpts of the interview comply with:
Inter Press Service (IPS): What is the present state of deforestation globally?
Tim Christophersen: The speed of deforestation has slowed since 2000 globally. Sooner or later, it had even slowed by about 50 %. We still have rather a lot of deforestation—it’s just that the fee has gone down so that’s partially excellent news.
The good news aspect is we see so much of restoration and reemergence of forests on deforested land. But typically those forests of course can’t substitute the biodiversity or ecosystem values that they once had.
The dangerous news is that in some nations, deforestation has accelerated.
This picture is combined but it isn’t all gloom and doom.
IPS: Where have you seen improvements and what instances are most concerning to you?
TC: Normally, the picture is sort of constructive in Europe the place forest area is growing by one million hectares per yr.
In Asia and the Pacific, the picture is sort of combined with China investing closely in restoration and planting tens of millions of hectares of new forests and different nations similar to Myanmar the place the pace of deforestation is accelerating.
Lately, an area of concern is of course Brazil with modifications in leadership there that may in all probability weaken protections of the Amazon rainforest. We anticipate they may not have the ability to hold their constructive monitor report that that they had particularly in the years between 2007-2012 the place deforestation of the Amazon dropped by 70 %.
IPS: What has UN-REDD and REDD+’s position on this situation? What are some successful case studies or tales that REDD had a direct position in?
TC: REDD has, for instance, put the problem of indigenous rights front and middle to the whole debate about forests and land use.
That is largely because of the robust position of indigenous communities in the climate discussions and the robust safeguards that have been part of the REDD+ package deal. So these safeguards have triggered, also across other infrastructure tasks, the information and awareness of indigenous communities that they have rights, that they will decide nationwide useful resource use within their jurisdictions—that was not a lot the case earlier than.
For example in Panama, we’ve worked together with indigenous communities to map forest cowl and priority areas for REDD+ investments. In Ecuador, indigenous communities have been involved from the start in the design of the REDD+ framework.
There are [also] different potential consumers which are on the market and prepared to spend money on verified and clearly demonstrated reductions in deforestation.
We now have not seen the amount of funding stream into REDD+ that we had anticipated up to now but it is choosing up now. We additionally hope that extra nations will come online with their emissions reductions that they properly confirm with the UNFCC process.
The difficulty is that land use and forests are about 30 % of the climate drawback and answer—it’s a drawback that may be became a solution. It is presently causing 25 % of emissions and it might take in as a lot as one-third of all the emission sequestration that we’d like.
However it has solely acquired about three % of local weather finance so there’s an enormous mismatch between the alternative that pure options provide and the funding that goes into it.
IPS: Over the last yr including throughout the current COP, many have introduced up and mentioned nature-based options. What are these, and what might such options appear to be on the floor?
TC: Nature-based options are solutions to climate change or different challenges we face the place we use the energy of nature to revive or enhance ecosystem providers.
An example can be using forests for flood prevention or purification of consuming water for cities. That is fairly widespread actually but it isn’t all the time recognised. About one-third of all main cities in creating nations obtain their consuming water from forested watersheds.
If we lose these forests, that might have detrimental impacts on rather a lot of individuals’s consuming water provide. It will probably typically be cheaper or no less than less expensive for cities, provinces or nations to spend money on maintaining and restoring their forests quite than other options for water purification or consuming water provide.
One other instance that’s typically cited is the position of mangroves in storm protection in coastal areas. Once more, this can be cheaper to spend money on planting and conserving mangroves than building sea walls or other gray infrastructure tasks that we have now to increasingly spend money on for local weather adaptation.
IPS: There are numerous initiatives round the world that contain planting timber as a method to tackle climate change and land degradation and lots of have acquired combined evaluations in terms of its usefulness. Is it sufficient just to plant timber?
TC: Planting timber isn’t sufficient because timber are a bit like youngsters—it’s not enough to place the in the world, you even have to ensure they grow up properly. That’s typically ignored that you simply can’t just plant timber and then depart them to their fate.
Because typically the causes for landscape degradation, for instance overgrazing, will very quickly remove any timber that you simply plant. So it’s more a few longer-term, higher pure useful resource administration.
Planting timber may be one activity in a longer process of restoring degraded forests and landscapes.
There are different ecosystems which are additionally essential—peatlands, wetlands—but forests and timber will play a serious position in the next decade. I am convinced there can be increasingly more investments into this area because if timber are planted and correctly taken care of, it’s a big alternative for us to get again onto the 2 degree goal in the Paris Agreement.
IPS: Since the planet continues to be rising in phrases of inhabitants measurement and food wants, is there a solution to reconcile improvement and land restoration? And do wealthier nations and even firms have a duty to help with land restoration?
TC: Absolutely. I might even say land restoration on a big scale is our solely option to reconcile the want for growing meals production and assembly the different Sustainable Improvement Objectives (SDGs) as properly most notable aim 13 on local weather motion.
With out restoration, we are in all probability not going to realize the Paris Settlement. That half of nature-based options, large investments in ecosystem restoration is completely important and we see that increasingly firms are recognising that.
The aviation business is one of these potential consumers with their carbon reduction offset scheme which is known as CORSIA.
It definitely is an choice to channel financing for forest protection but there are of course limits as to how a lot emissions we will realistically offset.
Offsets are absolutely no alternative for very drastic, highly formidable emission mitigation measures. We have now to very drastically and shortly scale back industrial emissions.
Offsets can perhaps tip the stability in favour of offsetting only these emissions that may in any other case not be decreased or prevented but they don’t seem to be a alternative for robust action on decreasing greenhouse fuel emissions from all industrial sectors together with agriculture.
The most important part of company interest we see in restoration is from giant agri commodity buyers and food methods corporations because they need to secure their supply chains and that’s quite encouraging.
*Interview has been edited for length and readability
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