ROUNDUP / Climate Conference: Alliances to protect forests and reduce methane emissions

BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – In the fight against global warming, dozens of states forged new alliances at the UN climate conference in Glasgow to protect forests and reduce climate-damaging methane emissions. On Tuesday, more than 100 countries pledged to stop the destruction of forests and other valuable ecosystems by 2030 at the latest. The participating countries have 85 percent of the world’s forest area, or about 34 million square kilometers, as the British COP26 presidency announced. More than 100 countries have also announced that they will significantly reduce their methane emissions.

At COP26, which is due to end on November 12th, around 200 countries are fighting to see how the goal set in Paris of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times can still be achieved. The plans presented by the states so far are still far from being sufficient for this.

After the first three days of the climate summit, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised initial successes, but warned against rash optimism. “There is still a very long way to go,” he said. In view of the agreements that have already been made, however, he is “cautiously optimistic”. Johnson tried a football comparison: On the way to the G20 summit in Rome – immediately before the climate conference – he said that if this were a football game with climate change, humanity would be 1: 5 behind. After the first few days of negotiations, one could say that humanity has caught up one or maybe even two goals. And there are chances to “extend this thing”.

Pact for the Protection of Forests

Germany and the entire EU have joined the pact for the protection of forests, but above all the countries with the largest forests of all – Canada, Russia, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia as well as China, Norway and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Around 12 billion US dollars (around 10.3 billion euros) in public funds are to be mobilized for the project by 2025. In addition, there is 7.2 billion US dollars in private investments. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called forests “cathedrals of nature” which are essential for human survival.

Forests are considered the lungs of the earth, they absorb around a third of the CO2 emissions emitted by humans each year. But they are shrinking worryingly, as it was said in a message: Every minute an area of ​​about 27 football fields is lost.

Experts commented on the plans with some skepticism. A similar statement from 2014 has proven to be completely ineffective, said climate and forest expert Simon Lewis from University College London of the BBC. Silvia Holten from World Vision spoke of a “half-baked sham”.

The German climate activist Luisa climate activist Neubauer called the declaration on the protection of the forests “absurd” and completely inadequate. “We don’t have another nine years to deforest like there is no tomorrow,” she said on “Welt Fernsehen”.

Methane emissions

The initiative launched by the USA and the EU in September aims to reduce methane emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2020. If it is successfully implemented, global warming could be reduced by around 0.2 degrees by 2050, according to the EU Commission. “Reducing methane emissions is one of the most efficient things we can do,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who presented the pact together with US President Joe Biden.

Methane is the second most harmful greenhouse gas and is responsible for global warming and air pollution. Biden spoke of a “pioneering commitment”. He said the 30 percent target could probably even be exceeded. The problem with the new pact: Big climate sinners like India, China and Russia are not included.

Distribute green electricity across borders

In addition, more than 80 countries around the world want to better link their power grids in order to better distribute climate-friendly and environmentally friendly energy for the benefit of all. The so-called “Green Grids” initiative was presented by the governments of India and Great Britain in Glasgow. The idea: Green electricity from solar, wind and water power should be passed on across borders and time zones. Germany, the USA, France and Australia have also joined the initiative.

Help for South Africa

Germany wants to invest 700 million euros to support the exit from coal-fired power generation in South Africa. This was announced by the Federal Environment and Development Ministry in Glasgow. The funds are part of a new energy partnership with South Africa, which Great Britain, the USA, France and the EU have also joined. A total of US $ 8.5 billion is planned for the next five years, mostly loans.

Activists criticize the organizers of the COP26

The British government, as the host of the world climate summit, has been named “Fossil of the Day” by the environmentalists of the Climate Action Network (CAN) – among other things because of organizational deficiencies at the mammoth meeting with 28,000 participants. CAN also complained that civil society representatives who had traveled far were told there was no space in the events and that they should watch online. “We could have stayed at home right away – although: Then we would have missed the weather,” they said with a view of the dreary Scottish autumn./swe/DP/jha

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