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Malta among 100 countries promising to end deforestation

Malta among 100 countries promising to end deforestation

Malta is among more than 100 countries pledging to end and reverse deforestation by the year 2030, in the COP26 climate summit’s first major agreement.

The COP26 deal is expected to be signed later today and includes the country Brazil, which is the home of the Amazon rainforest, where the cutting down of trees has increased and intensified over the last few years. The pledge includes €16,000,000 of public and private funds and though experts welcomed the move, they warned that a previous deal in 2014 had “failed to slow deforestation at all.”

Cutting trees down contributes to climate change because it depletes forests that absorb huge amounts of C02, the gas that contributes greatly to global warming. Large tracts of forests are removed on a yearly basis to make space for grazing areas and agriculture to feed the world’s population.

Malta’s contribution may be deemed as insignificant within the global context, but the pledge includes a commitment to “conserve forests and other territorial ecosystems and accelerate their restoration.” Countries will also be committed to “facilitate trade and development policies, internationally and domestically, which promote sustainable development and sustainable commodity production and consumption.”

In Malta, tree cover is low and woodland cover is, in fact, less than 5% of the area of the Maltese Islands, according to the State of the Environment report, which was released in 2018. The report covered the period until 2015 and noted that 67,000 trees were planted between 2008 and 2015 in a number of afforestation initiatives across the islands.

During the Budget 2022, delivered in October, the government pledged a multi-million euro investment to create a huge coastal woodland in the Inwadar Park between Marsaskala and Xgħajra. That being said, the country has also seen the loss of a number of mature trees, to make way for road-widening projects that have taken place in the last four years.

You may have stumbled across a number of headlines referencing the COP26 deal. In case you’re not quite familiar with what it’s about yet, we thought it best to explain, seeing as you are likely to come across many more COP26-related headlines during the month of November.

What is COP?

COP is the annual United Nations climate conference and it stands for Conference of the Parties, which refer to the ‘parties’ to the UNFCCC. Every year, negotiators representing almost every country in the world, meet to agree on the global approach to fighting climate change. This year, COP26 is held in Glasgow between the 31 of October and the 12 of November, though negotiations could last longer.

What about the 26?

It’s simple, really. The 26 references the fact that Glasgow is the 26th edition of the UNFCCC’s COP. The 1992 Rio Earth Summit called for regular meetings to prevent and control climate change. The first was held in Berlin in 1995 and since then, there has been a COP almost every year.

I’ve never heard of it before. Why is this one so important?

The aim of every COP is to assess the progress made by countries in tackling climate change. Once every five years, the COP is more important, where countries meet to update their national plans to reflect the latest climate science and make key decisions about their future actions.

The last such COP took place in 2015 and led to the establishment of the Paris Agreement, in which countries were committed to keeping the increase of the world’s temperature to well below 2 degrees celcius by the end of the century, ideally limiting it to 1.5 degrees celcius above pre-industrial levels.

2021 is the first decision-making COP since then. There was a one-year hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the COP26 is widely considered to be world’s last chance to agree on policies that can get climate change under control.

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