Laws needed for rainforsts
Protecting rainforests needs laws. At COP26, world leaders have ‘agreed’ to stop rainforest destruction by 2030. However, it is ‘too little, too late’. It sounds good, but we need direct action to stop forest destruction in its tracks with an international legal framework. Companies and national governments should by law demonstrate compliance. World leaders must do this now if they mean what they say.
Why regulation is needed now
More than 20 per cent of the Amazon rainforest is already gone, and much more is at risk as the destruction continues. More than 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned every day. That is more than 150 acres lost every minute of every day, and 78 million acres are lost every year!
What’s the problem?
More than 20 per cent of the Amazon rainforest is already gone, and much more is at risk as destruction continues. More than 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned every day. That is more than 150 acres lost every minute of every day, and 78 million acres are lost every year!
I’ll leave readers to do the calculation of what that loss means by 2030! Also, I am sorry to sound a negative note, but didn’t they say this in 2014?
Regulation for rainforest protection
We need stringent international laws protecting rainforests. Leaving it to global companies and markets has failed. Such destruction should fall under international criminal law. Too many companies have no checks for ethical sourcing of palm oil, responsible for rainforest destruction. We need to source food more locally, as that could also bring a halt to the sweeping clearances of vast tracts of forest to raise cattle. We must change how we live.
Why are laws needed?
So, why are laws needed for rainforests? First, the goods we consume must be strictly regulated, ensuring they don’t involve rainforest destruction. Second, major global companies should by law act responsibly. If I enter your garden and trash it, you would have recourse to criminal law. We cannot pussy-foot around this any longer, else it is merely ‘blah, blah, blah’ as someone (not Shakespeare) has said.
As it stands, there is no direct reference to law in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Nor is there a punitive system to ensure nations deliver on commitments to reduce emissions. In particular, no International law holds companies accountable for forest destruction in sourcing their supply chain.
So, the question to ask world leaders congratulating themselves on their agreements at COP26 is whether and how they will honour the deal. But, unfortunately, the answer is they can’t give such assurance.
Trade deals come with regulation. So, The World Trade Organisation regulates trade. The EU has a court of justice to ensure compliance with EU rules. Yet, there isn’t a body within international law to protect our vital habitats. So, protecting rainforests needs laws
People not trade
It seems we regard the ‘freedom’ to exploit the world’s resources as more critical than safeguarding the planet. Yet, protecting people and life should be prioritized over trade. Saving our planet is more important than growth. Bad growth just ins’t something we should tolerate.
Politicians advocate ‘free trade’. But our trade is not ‘free’. It comes with a great cost in the destruction of our planet and human misery. We must change the notion of value in economics. Reducing barriers to trade misses the point. We need the right kind of barriers – those that protect our planet. This is why we need a robust international legal framework.
Global warming drives people from their homes. It is expected to drive mass migrations and increase conflict. It has several impacts:
- Large-scale human migration due to resource scarcity,
- increased frequency of extreme weather events, and other factors, particularly in the developing countries in the earth’s low latitudinal band
- Intensifying competition for food, water, and other resources, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa
- Increased frequency and severity of disease outbreaks
- Increased border stress and conflicts.
What’s the problem?
Global warming is driving people from their homes. It is expected to drive mass migrations and increase conflict.
Forests are ‘the lungs’ of the planet
Our rainforests are the lungs of the planet. The trees soak up billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by cars, factories, power plants, and other emissions that would otherwise trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere.
Governments are only serious if they back up their rhetoric with laws that protect our planet.
Author: Ray Noble is a chartered biologist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.