Misfired targets

International targets to cut emissions and limit Climate Change will be missed due to rises in deforestation and delays in changing how humans use land, a new study warns. Nearly 100 countries pledged to make their use of land less damaging to the climate, mainly by limiting deforestation rates and boosting forest restocking, when they signed the Paris Agreement in 2015. But those commitments were unrealistic and need to be stepped up dramatically, according to researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Edinburgh, who pointed to inaction by richer countries and a rise in deforestation in several countries since the treaty was signed. The agreement committed almost 200 countries to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and below 1.5 degrees if possible. "In most cases, little progress has been made, [and] often, the situation has actually worsened in the last three years," said Calum Brown, lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Brazil increased deforestation by 29 per cent between 2015 and 2016 despite reductions in the decade before the Paris Agreement was signed, the study says, essentially making the country's emission promises impossible to meet. Palm oil cultivation in Indonesia and Peru has also scuppered deforestation efforts and led to increased emissions rates, it says. "The commitments were never sufficient, which is bad enough, but also the commitments that have been made are not realistic given the political support they have in general," said co-author Peter Alexander, a lecturer in global food security at the University of Edinburgh. The study is one of many in recent months to warn that countries are falling woefully short of achieving the targets of the Paris treaty. The agreement, once seen as a landmark eleventh-hour attempt at stemming the catastrophic impact of Climate Change, has also been denounced by a number of leaders elected since it was signed, including US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Richer countries have not been leading the way, either in reducing their own emissions or in reducing the pressure on developing nations. There is a need to find rapid but realistic ways of changing human land use if Climate Change targets are to be met.

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