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Brazil Holdout Overshadows U.N. Pledge to Fight Deforestation

'We Have to Lead' on Climate Change, Obama Tells U.N. 1:24

Efforts to at least slow deforestation around the globe got a boost at the U.N. Climate Summit on Tuesday with dozens of countries, indigenous groups and companies agreeing to a deadline for action — with one key holdout. The United States signed on to the New York Declaration of Forests, which calls for cutting the rate of loss in half by 2020 and ending losses by 2030.

There was also a new commitment to slow the clearing of forests for palm oil plantations. The CEOs of three global food companies that are leaders in palm-oil production — Cargill, Golden Agri-Resources and Wilmar — signed a pledge to work together in Indonesia and elsewhere to reform industry practices and to include third-party suppliers. The U.N. said commitments to zero deforestation involving palm oil now account for about 60 percent of the global total.

But there was a big hole in the deforestation effort: Brazil Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira told The Associated Press that her country wouldn’t sign the forest declaration because it hadn't been consulted. Brazil’s management of the huge Amazon forest is a key to reining in deforestation. Brazil’s rate has fallen 79 percent over the past decade although it rose last year.

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— Gil Aegerter