Despite the estimated 1.5 billion tons of carbon released every year by tropical deforestation. Or that the current CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has reached the highest level in at least 650,000 years. It is world environment day and I’m smiling.
Despite the fact that world deforestation contributes directly to about 20% of our current greenhouse gas emissions and CO2 has been proven to have a direct effect in climate change. Or that one of the effects of this climate change is the widespread melting of glaciers, snowcap and reduction of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. 2014 is turning out to be good year for environmentalists.
Why? Because this is the year everything is coming together for tropical rain forests.
Following Colombia’s announcement of the Vision Amazonia Initiative at the end of 2013, Guyana’s president, Donald Ramotar, kicked off the year by reiterating the country’s keen interest in promoting and supporting increased action in the Caribbean Region on the issue of climate change. He also underlined Guyana’s interest in sharing its experience in developing and implementing a Low Carbon Development Strategy and its REDD+ initiatives, and to work with countries in the Region that might be interested, as is already being done with Suriname.
In February, United States senator John Kerry delivered a great speech on climate change from Jacarta. He announced $332 million in funding through the Green Prosperity program to help Indonesia tackle unsustainable deforestation and support clean-energy projects.
The Abu Dhabi Ascent in May, brought together government ministers, as well as leaders of business, finance, indigenous peoples and civil society, to develop proposals for action and to determine how to deliver concrete commitments at the Climate Summit. UNDP Administrator Helen Clark reaffirmed that action to dramatically reduce deforestation, expand forest restoration and advance sustainable land use can deliver at least 20% and as much as 60% of the emission reductions needed by 2030 to stay below the 2 degree warming limit. She called for governments to express “higher levels of ambition and pledges for concrete action” at the Climate Summit.
Just two weeks ago, Brazil announced a global partnership between governments, financial and business leaders, conservationists and public and private donors to fund ARPA for life. The Amazon Region Protected Areas program (ARPA) will receive US$4.5 million towards protection of 60% of the Brazilian Amazon forest over the next 25 years. That’s 518,000 square kilometers (roughly the size of Spain) of tropical rain forest preserved. Before this announcement, the ARPA program was already credited with helping to reduce the deforestation of the Brazilian area of the Amazon by 75%, avoiding 1.4 billion tons of CO2 emissions.
Eight days ago, Peru approved US$3.8 million channeled through the IDB towards their program of reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), joining Guyana and Guatemala in the world effort to mitigate climate change.
Today, as part of the world environment day, millions of people have accepted the challenge and pledged to do something about climate change with UNEP’s Goodwill Ambassadors Gisele Bündchen, Don Cheadle, Ian Somerhalder and Yaya Touré. That translates to millions who know and understand the importance of leading a more sustainable lifestyle.
These are just some of the initiatives maturing throughout the world. If they work, then it means we might also be able to find sustainable solutions to mitigate and adapt to the other effects of climate change. That is why I’m optimistic about the future, and am looking forward to seeing what will come out of the COP20 in Lima, Peru in December.
Follow us on Twitter: @BIDcambioclima