Trump hails 1tn trees plan but ignores roots of problem

(The Guardian, 21 Jan 2020) If US president really wants to protect trees he should rethink his climate-wrecking policies.

Trees are great. They give us oxygen, take away CO2, provide nests for birds and habitats for wildlife, protect against flooding and even help to clean up lung-shredding air pollutants from traffic.

As the world’s forests come under increasing threat from fires, agriculture and logging, the World Economic Forum-led initiative to ensure 1tn trees are restored, saved from loss or better protected by 2050 has gathered international support. Now Donald Trump is onboard too, he told Davos.

Exactly what Trump’s support amounts to in practical terms is unclear. Will he restore the protected lands that he opened up for commercial development, the biggest reduction in public lands in US history? Reverse his push for logging in the Alaskan Tongass National Forest? Bring back the jobs cut from the US Forest Service? Will he lean on his ally Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to stop the burning of the Amazon?

Or will he just sign up to a snappy feel-good headline? Because who, after all, doesn’t like trees?

WEF is launching its initiative at Davos on Wednesday, aiming to use the restoration of nature to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises. It is estimated that the planet is losing 10bn trees a year, and large-scale projects to restore and replant forests are needed.

To make a real impact, however, tree fans must take on some of the biggest vested interests on the planet. Fossil fuel businesses are rightly regarded as the main culprits in rising global emissions, but the food we eat, clothes we wear and stuff we use takes a heavy toll on the world’s forests and peatlands, and therefore the planet’s ability to absorb carbon, as well as devastating species loss. Corporate commodity supply chains are responsible for about four-fifths of the loss of tropical forests across Asia, South America and sub-Saharan Africa.

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The Guardian, 21 Jan 2020: Trump hails 1tn trees plan but ignores roots of problem