COP26: Combatting climate change
Did you join the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) that took place over the last two weeks? This year marked the 26th edition, bringing together parties across the globe to take action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Many environmental topics were discussed, one of them being deforestation and its relevance for reducing emissions.
To achieve global net-zero by 2050 and keep the warming of the Earth to a minimum, serious emissions reductions are needed. To achieve this, countries not only need to eliminate the use of coal and shift towards renewable energy, they also must put a halt to deforestation. Forests absorb and store CO2 in their biomass, which prevents it from polluting the atmosphere. That way, they have a cooling effect on the Earth. Also, for those countries and regions most at risk, it is vital that natural ecosystems are protected and restored, and that resilient infrastructure and agriculture are in place. Here too, forests play a key role. Forests minimise the impact of storms and floods by controlling soil erosion, as tree roots strengthen the soil.
But how do we protect forests from deforestation? One of the finalists of the EU Datathon 2020: Digital Dryads provides a solution. Their application combines aerial and Copernicus satellite imagery to show where forests are, which parts are protected, and which parts have been cut, or can be cut. This application is based on open data and shows precisely how forests are doing across the globe and will raise awareness around their protection.