'What are we doing here?' Congolese minister criticises Cop27 talks on rainforests

Eve Bazaiba wants crucial role of rainforests significantly addressed

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Democratic Republic of Congo's Vice Prime Minister, Eve Bazaiba, on Friday launched a scathing criticism of the Cop27 talks for not giving enough prominence to protecting rainforests in its final declaration.

The DRC in central Africa is home to most of the Congo Basin, the world's second-largest rainforest.

Ms Baziaba, also minister for the environment, said she was disappointed the role of forests and peatlands has not been emphasised in the draft Cop27 "cover decision", or the final declaration, expected at the end of the summit.

Speaking at an impromptu briefing at the Sharm El Sheikh venue, she railed against the lack of ambition at the crucial climate summit and said leaders needed to grasp why rainforests are so important.

“Now we are asking ourselves: 'what are we doing here at these negotiations if they will remove the very important element to fight against the warming of the planet?' We want, ask, demand, to reinsert the role of rainforests and peatlands in the cover decision."

DRC is part of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, an inter-governmental group representing more than 50 countries dedicated to protecting its rainforests.

They are crucial for the climate as they soak up vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, acting as what's known as a carbon sink. But the more trees cut down, the less the forest can soak up emissions.

DRC Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge, and his deputy, Eve Bazaiba, at Cop27. Reuters

A study last year found that the Amazon rainforest in Brazil was now releasing 1 billion tonnes more CO2 than it was absorbing, the first time it had switched from being a sink to a polluter. Mostly this was due to forest fires burning back areas for cattle and soy farming.

The coalition said it would continue to press its message at the talks with Cop27 now extended until Saturday.

Updated: November 18, 2022, 2:52 PM
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