Deforestation is getting worse, 5 years after countries and companies vowed to stop it

(Inside Climate News, 13 Sep 2019) As fires in the Amazon draw attention to the problem, critics say big agribusinesses aren't doing enough to stop deforestation in their supply chains.

Five years after joining in a historic commitment to stop cutting the world's forests, governments and companies are not only failing to slow deforestation, they are rapidly driving the disappearance of more trees.

As fires consume Amazonian forests, stoking global concern about the loss of a vital ecosystem and climate regulator, a new report published Thursday finds that forests continue to be cleared at an alarming rate, driven mostly by agricultural expansion and demand for beef, palm oil and soy.

"We're losing the battle, so to speak, on stopping deforestation," said Craig Hanson, a vice president at the World Resources Institute. "This is a clarion call."

Nearly 200 companies and governments have signed onto the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests—which includes the goals of halving deforestation by 2020 and stopping it by 2030. But the new assessment by researchers and environmental groups found that forest loss has accelerated by more than 40 percent annually since the declaration's launch.

The cutting and burning of tropical forests, especially mature tropical forests, is particularly damaging because of the carbon storage lost and the contribution to climate change when trees burn or decompose, the authors write. They found that, on average, tropical deforestation and tree deaths emitted more carbon dioxide per year in the past five years than the entire European Union did in 2017.

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Inside Climate News, 13 Sep 2019: Deforestation is getting worse, 5 years after countries and companies vowed to stop it