From October 31 until November 12, representatives from more than 200 countries are meeting in Glasgow for COP26, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties to commit to unified global climate action and to set ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets to reach net zero by the middle of the century.
With climate change marching forward unchecked, COP26 brings a sense of hope that countries will make meaningful commitments and quickly implement them, but also prompts acute misapprehension and urgency. Our collective dread is fed by increasingly dangerous and more frequent extreme weather events experienced since COP25 in December 2019 and the alarming loss of biodiversity that escalates with each passing day.
But how can we stop it?
Limiting the burning of fossil fuels is essential to slowing global warming. Although global emissions initially dropped as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, with the slow resumption of “normal” life and travel, they are rebounding.
What many people don’t realize is that deforestation is also a leading contributor to emissions. In fact, tropical deforestation accounts for up to 15% of net global carbon emissions each year, because standing forests absorb CO2 while they are alive and release it into the atmosphere when they are cleared or degraded. And intact tropical rainforests are the best at mitigating climate change because they store carbon even more efficiently than other forest types.
But, each day, an area half the size of Chicago or Manila is lost to deforestation and millions of tons of stored carbon are released. Such a trajectory of forest loss and carbon emissions might seem impossible to comprehend, let alone stop. But there is hope.
Rainforest Trust is making progress every day in protecting rainforests that cost-effectively store and sequester vast quantities of carbon. We partner with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Indigenous Peoples and governments worldwide to identify and protect highly biodiverse landscapes within the tropics—that warmer, moist region that encircles the Earth.
Our work has an immediate and measurable impact on global climate change. To date, Rainforest Trust has protected over 37 million acres of rainforest and safeguarded 13.9 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalents. At the same time, we have protected over 1,000 endangered species.
The Rainforest Climate Action Fund (RCAF) was established as an immediate way forward. It supports high impact projects that protect three types of forest: those facing imminent destruction, super sequestors like peat swamps or mangroves, and carbon vaults where the cost of protection is very reasonable. Our goal is to permanently lock up 15 billion tons of carbon by 2025. Donating to this fund may be the most efficient way you can fight climate change right now.
We support world leaders as they join together to address the climate crisis. And we are proud to continue to deliver on our 30-year mission of saving rainforests and the species and people who depend on them for life. And you can be a part of it right now.