In terms of environmental sustainability, Ethiopia is reaching new heights. As several countries are improving their environmental standards, Ethiopia passed international sustainability goals by planting 353 million trees in 12 hours, a new world record.
It started as a reforestation campaign
A reforestation campaign called Green Legacy established these sustainability goals in an effort to mobilize Ethiopians to reforest the country. Abiy Ahmed, the country’s prime minister, led the campaign. In the first six hours, millions of Ethiopians had already congregated to work together. At that point, Ahmed shared on Twitter that Ethiopian citizens had already planted some 150 million trees.
“We’re halfway to our goal,” claimed Ahmed after the six hours had passed. After 12 hours, Ahmed tweeted that Ethiopia exceeded its goals.
Ethiopia had planted 353,633,660 tree seedlings after the 12-hour goal, exceeding their original goal of 200 million seedlings in a day. This exceeds India’s world record of 66 million trees in 12 hours from 2017.
The ambitious original goal of Ethiopia was to plant 4 billion trees by the end of the rainy season, from May to October, meaning that the country had to plant 40 seedlings per person across the country. So far, Ethiopians have planted over 2.6 billion trees across the country.
The climate crisis hits Ethiopia hard
The aim of Ethiopia’s goal is to reverse deforestation issues. Per research conducted by Farm Africa, Ethiopian forest land went from about 33% of the country at the beginning of the 21st century to less than 4% today.
According to a Nature study, people cut down an estimated 15 billion trees each year, adding tremendously to global warming. In fact, deforestation accounts for more than 15% of global greenhouse gases emissions. And because forests sequester carbon, trees re-emit carbon back into the atmosphere in the case of forest fires. Clearly, deforestation has immense ramifications when it comes to the climate crisis.
Ethiopia is especially harmed by the climate crisis, as its farm-based economy is diminished by over-farming due to land degradation and soil erosion. Ethiopia’s climate is drought- and flooding-prone, so its efforts impact not only the country but the world too.
We need to plant more trees
It’s a common belief that the cheapest, most effective way to tackle the climate crisis is to plant billions of trees worldwide. Politicians, including Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang, know this and have encouraged people to plant trees.
In the past 25 years, around 300 billion metric tons of man-made carbon emissions have been produced. And planting more trees might help: planting an area of trees the size of the United States could make up for 205 billion metric tons of emitted carbon.
But is this even possible? Only time (and technology) will tell.