Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Empty, Toothless Pledges to End Deforestation by 2030 at COP26

At the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, more than 110 countries pledged to halt deforestation by 2030. The agreement, though, is non-binding, and as capitalism and extractivism both go unchallenged, it is virtually guaranteed to fail.

Axomalli Villanueva

November 6, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share

In his speech at COP26 on November 2, British prime minister Boris Johnson announced that more than 100 countries had joined the Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, which seeks to halt and reverse the alarming levels of global deforestation by 2030. The declaration also emphasizes the need for countries to facilitate sustainable trade and development policies, promote food security through sustainable agriculture, and “accelerate the transition to [a green] economy.” To that end, more than $19 billion in public and private funds have been pledged for the plan, backed by countries including Brazil, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Russia, and the United States.

Despite these ambitious pledges, the agreement is not legally binding. In other words, it is unlikely to be converted into joint policies to halt deforestation worldwide, despite the fact that the 110 countries that signed on to the declaration are home to 85 percent of the planet’s forests.

At the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit, a coalition of around 200 countries, local governments, companies, and civil society organizations signed the similar New York Declaration on Forests. It called for cutting deforestation by half by 2020 and ending it altogether by 2030. But since then, deforestation has actually increased. Few countries set explicit targets to meet the goals, and several even rolled back forest protections during that period. 

U.S. president Joe Biden was among the signers of this week’s declaration. He said that the United States would contribute billions to combat climate change and environmental devastation, and that the country would “work to ensure markets recognize the true economic value of natural carbon sinks and motivate governments, landowners and stakeholders to prioritize conservation.” Biden’s promises ring hollow, however; he made no mention, for instance, of the giant U.S. mining and bottling companies that devastate the environment and dispossess native communities, not only in the United States, but worldwide. 

Similarly, Colombian president Iván Duque promised to protect 30 percent of his country’s territory by 2022. “We cannot wait until 2030,” he declared. “We must act now to protect our forests,” earning a standing ovation from the room for one of the most ambitious promises presented so far at the conference. Yet, Colombia is among the world’s most dangerous countries for forest defenders — in 2020 alone, 177 activists were murdered

Brazil also signed the declaration, and Minister of Environment Joaquim Leite promised to reduce deforestation by 50 percent by 2027. What a cynical statement from the government of Jair Bolsonaro, who has championed extractivism and agribusiness in the Amazon rainforest. Since he took office in 2019, deforestation has surged, and some 10,000 square miles of the Brazilian Amazon have been destroyed.

The reality is that these country and corporate promises made at COP26 are largely empty. Capitalism and the extractivism that it necessitates is the cause of so much deforestation in recent decades. It has gone hand in hand with agribusiness and mining.

Deforestation is one of the main accelerators of the climate crisis, and we must fight to stop it. But this will be impossible to achieve while maintaining the capitalist mode of production, which prioritizes profits at the expense of the environment and human life. 

First published in Spanish on November 3 in La Izquierda Diario.

Translation by Otto Fors

Facebook Twitter Share

Ideas & Debates

What Is the Role of a “Green Card Soldier”? Interview with Sofya Aptekar

While both capitalist parties fight over diversity in the military, Sofya Aptekar’s new book, Green Card Soldier, looks at the experiences of immigrant soldiers in the U.S. military and how oppressed communities are used by the military to legitimize and expand empire.

Sam Carliner

August 22, 2023
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: Stalinism, Anti-Communism, and the Fate of the Soviet Union — An Interview with Doug Greene

In this episode, we interview author and historian Douglas Greene about his new book “Stalinism and the Dialectics of Saturn: Anticommunism, Marxism, and the Fate of the Soviet Union.”

Left Voice

August 14, 2023

How the Daughters of a Nazi General Became Communist Spies

As Hitler rose to power, two daughters of Germany’s top general became spies for the Communist Party. A new biography tells the story of how hatred for fascism and its aristocratic collaborators led them to become class traitors.

Nathaniel Flakin

August 12, 2023

A Labor Aristocracy Exists, and It’s Evolving: A Reply to Charlie Post

Charlie Post argues there’s no such thing as a “labor aristocracy” in the United States. But there really is an upper layer of the working class, supported by a thousand kinds of “direct and indirect” benefits flowing from imperialism. Its starkest expression is a massive labor bureaucracy that’s becoming more integrated into the imperialist capitalist machine than ever before. If we’re going to build genuine socialist internationalism, we’re going to need a clear-eyed view of that layer and its developments.

Jason Koslowski

August 5, 2023

MOST RECENT

President Biden giving a speech on Friday, September 15, about the UAW strike. A UAW sign in the background.

Joe Biden Is Afraid of the UAW Strike. That’s a Good Thing.

A few days ago, Biden called on the bosses of the Big Three automakers to give concessions to the striking UAW workers. It’s because he’s scared of the UAW’s power.

Enid Brain

September 20, 2023
Migrants from Northern Africa sit in lines on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Crisis in Lampedusa: Down with Fortress Europe, Open the Borders!

The way out of the immigration crisis is through the struggle against imperialism. This is a declaration from the European organizations of the Trotskyist Fraction - Fourth International.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams stands at a podium.

The Housing Crisis and Migrant Crisis Are Crises of Capitalism

As thousands of people come to the U.S. seeking shelter, politicians around the country are claiming that housing in the U.S. is already in crisis and that there is no room for them. Both the “migrant crisis” and “housing crisis” are crises created and exacerbated by capitalism.

Mike Pappas

September 20, 2023

To Win, the UAW Strike Must Be Organized from Below

The strike at the Big Three has put the working class at the center of national politics. The autoworkers’ demands are bold and touch on issues of growing exploitation across the country. To win big, the strike must be organized from below.

Tristan Taylor

September 18, 2023