The rate of forest destruction all over the world surged last year, losing at least 42,000 square kilometers of tree cover in key tropical areas. The data from the University of Maryland and the online tracking network Global Forest Watch said that the loss was above the average for the last two decades, with 2020 being the third-worst year for forest destruction since the monitoring started in 2002. The losses were especially serious in tropical primary forests like the Amazon, Congo, and Southeast Asia. These tropical rainforests are important in controlling the global climate, as well as irreplaceable habitats for many species. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), losses from this type of forest alone amounted to 4.2 million hectares, which is equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of more than 575 million vehicles. In total, 12.2 million hectares of trees were lost in 2020, which is 12% higher than in 2019.

The United Kingdom will host the vital United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNCOP26) talks on November of this year, a UN summit about climate change. Distinguished senior fellow at WRI, Frances Seymour, said that forests need to be on the agenda for the UNCOP26. The president of Cop26, Alok Sharma, stated that wealthy countries should support poor countries who are bearing the brunt of climate change. “The people who have done the least to cause the climate crisis are suffering the most. This is a searing injustice. And so developed countries have a particular responsibility to support the response of communities which are most vulnerable to climate change. We are running out of time,” Sharma added.