Greenpeace urges European and African leaders to act against deforestation and climate change

Press release - 7 December, 2007
Greenpeace International today urged political leaders from Europe and Africa, attending a joint summit in Lisbon, to play an active role in ending tropical deforestation which accounts for roughly one-fifth of global greenhouse emissions.

Activists unfurled a banner on the Vasco Da Gamatower, overlooking the meeting, reading “Save the Climate - Save Africanforests” and urged the leaders to make an immediate commitment to protect Africa’s dwindling forests. 

A recent briefing by Greenpeace outlines how climatechange is a direct threat to Africa as the frequency of extreme events such asdroughts and floods are expected to increase. Africa'sintact rainforests act as a regulator of rainfall for the region. Acting asvast stores of carbon, which would otherwise be released as the global warminggas carbon dioxide, forests also help brake the further acceleration of climatechange.

“Leaders inLisbon have to exercise political muscle and immediately support a halt todeforestation in Africa,” said Stephan Van Praet, Africaforests campaign co-ordinator of Greenpeace International. “The second phase of the Kyoto Protocol isfive years away and urgent measures are needed now to protect Africa’s forestsand also ban illegal and destructive logging,” he added.

Greenpeace also wants government leaders in Lisbon to send a strong message to their delegations atthe UN climate talks, being held in Bali, Indonesia, toinclude reductions in greenhouse gases from deforestation in the negotiatingmandate for extending the Kyoto Protocol. 

“European andAfrican leaders need to send a clear signal to the Bali climate talks about theimportance of ending deforestation,” said Van Praet. “Forest-rich nations, like those of Central Africa, stand to gainenormously if the extension of Kyotoincludes a new international financing mechanism to protect forests and provideincome to local communities,”

Earlier this week, in Bali,Greenpeace proposed a 'Tropical Deforestation Emissions Reduction Mechanism'combining market-based and central government funding which would reward andincentivise reductions in deforestation in development countries.

European countries, as major greenhouse gas emittersand consumers of tropical timber, have a responsibility to be more active insupporting African nations in the development of forest protection measures.One priority is legislation to prevent illegal timber from being sold on theEuropean market. This would bolster Europe'scredibility in efforts against both climate change and forest destruction.

Greenpeace believes it is possible to keep the worstimpacts of climate change - such as extreme weather events, water crises andincreased hunger - from putting millions of people at risk. This calls for arevolution in the production and use of energy, and a commitment to stopdeforestation globally within 10 years. Governments must commit to biggeremissions reduction targets in the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol in orderto keep the rise in global mean temperature as far below a threshold of 2degrees Celsius as possible.

Other contacts: (In Lisbon)Stephan Van Praet, Greenpeace International Africa forest campaign coordinator. Tel: + 32 496161580Romain Chabrol, Greenpeace press officer. Tel: + 33 6888 81827 (French speaker)Mariana Paoli, Greenpeace forest campaigner. Tel: + 44 773 832 1866 (Portuguese speaker)