In pre-recorded video statements, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a slew of other world leaders voiced their support for a declaration to end and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030 — the first big win of the the COP26 climate talks.
More than 100 leaders, whose countries collectively account for more than 85% of the world’s forests, have agreed to the declaration, which could potentially put a huge dent in global emissions.
Among the nations taking part are Canada, Russia, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which have significant tracts of forest. Brazil in particular has come under criticism for allowing an increase in the deforestation of the Amazon in recent years. The United States and China will also be party to the agreement.
In hailing the agreement on forests and land use, many of the leaders noted the key role that forests play in their nations — in their society, culture and climate future.
“Our country accounts for around 20% of the world’s forestland,” Putin said, adding that Russia had approved a long-term government climate strategy on Monday targeting carbon neutrality by 2060. “We take the strongest and most vigorous measures to conserve it.”
Bolsonaro, who has been criticized for rainforest reduction on his watch, urged every country to “help defend all forests, committing adequate resources, for the benefit of all.”
Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said that forests mattered to him on a personal level. “In fact, I make many of my decisions and thinking while walking in the forest. So not only do we need good policies for forest, we also need forests for good policy decisions.”