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Forest destruction is still driving climate change, a crisis of existential proportions

13 Sep 2018
Not on track

By Ola Elvestuen, Minister of Climate and Environment, Norway.

In 2008, Norway supported the inception of the UN-REDD Programme.  Ever since we have been close partners. Since 2008, UN-REDD has grown into a flagship U.N. partnership assisting countries in reaching both the Paris Agreement climate goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. Together, we have put great political efforts and substantial funds into trying to stop and reverse deforestation of tropical forests. Despite significant progress, the world is still not on track. Instead of forests slowing climate change, forest destruction is still driving climate change. This is a crisis of existential proportions. This must change.

The case for action is stronger than ever. No one questions the benefits of halting and reversing deforestation for sustainable development. There is simply no way we can preserve biodiversity, the climate system, or freshwater supplies without stopping forest loss. In fact, we need a planet much greener than today. And the longer we wait, the less attractive our options.

Cutting down forests might make sense in the short term for individuals, companies or criminal networks, but it rarely benefits the broader society. Instead, food production for a growing population and forest protection should go hand in hand. Brazil’s agricultural miracle could be repeated three times over without clearing forests. Indonesia has millions of hectares of degraded lands, and aims to shift production to those areas. The Ethiopian government sees forest cover and agricultural growth as two sides of the same coin.

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