Climate Change: Democratic Republic of Congo Signs Landmark $200 million Deal To Tackle Deforestation And Reduce Carbon Emissions

The Democratic Republic of Congo has signed a landmark $200 million deal with donors to tackle deforestation and reduce carbon emissions as part of a wider plan to protect the tropical forests of the Congo Basin. Congo, home to the world’s second-largest rainforest after the Amazon, is the first country to sign an agreement with the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), launched in September 2015 by six African nations and European donor countries.

The initiative, which also covers Central African Republic, Cameroon, Congo Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, aims to restart protection efforts in the Congo Basin, which has become a target for the expansion of palm oil plantations as available land in Indonesia dwindles. Protecting forests is widely seen as one of the cheapest and most effective ways to reduce the emissions driving global warming. Loss and degradation of forests account for about 15 percent of emissions each year, conservation groups say.

Forests in the Congo Basin cover about two million sq km (0.8 million sq miles) – about the size of Mexico – but are shrinking by 5,600 sq km a year. Congo’s biggest logging companies are systematically violating national laws to plunder the country’s forests, campaign group Global Witness said in a report last year. President Joseph Kabila has pledged to reform agriculture in Congo, which is rich in minerals and fertile land, but has seen decades of misrule and a series of conflicts since the 1990s. Read more on Congo’s conservation efforts here.