More than 100 leaders from around the world pledged to reverse deforestation by 2030, in what’s being lauded as the first big achievement of COP26. Countries are backing up their promise with more than $19 billion in public and private funds.

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“We have to stop the devastating loss of our forests,” said U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as reported by the BBC. He called on fellow leaders to “end humanity’s long history as nature’s conqueror, and instead become its custodian.”

Related: Illegal beef farmers promote deforestation in Chiribiquete National Park

A total of 110 leaders signed the deforestation pledge at the two-week climate change summit in Glasgow. Signatories include heavily forested nations, such as Brazil, Canada, Russia, the U.S., the U.K., Indonesia, China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Businesses are hopping on the deforestation wagon. Some of the world’s biggest financial companies promised to stop investing in activities contributing to deforestation. Twenty-eight countries pledged to stop industries from chopping down trees to let animals graze or grow crops such as soy, cocoa and palm oil.

Of course, activists quickly pointed out that climate change promises have been continuously broken. Notably, a similar pledge in 2014 barely saved a twig. Climate activist Greta Thunberg, speaking outside the CO26 venue, said a lot of “blah blah blah” was going on inside.

Matt McGrath, the BBC’s environmental correspondent, raised some interesting points in his analysis. For example, how will countries be policed and held accountable for their promises? Are sovereign countries going to suddenly allow satellites to spy on their forests? How will we break the link between consumer good production and deforestation? And are governments going to actively push people to reduce their meat consumption, so as not to need all that soy feed and grazing land?

Despite legitimate doubts, the deforestation pledge is a positive step. After all, not trying and doing nothing hasn’t worked too well.


Lead image via Pexels