News & Press
Deforestation Plays Critical Climate Change Role
May 11, 2007
DEFORESTATION PLAYS CRITICAL CLIMATE CHANGE ROLE
Dr. Pep Canadell, from the Global Carbon Project and CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, says today in the journal Science that tropical deforestation releases 1.5 billion tons of carbon each year into the atmosphere.
"Deforestation in the tropics accounts for nearly 20 per cent of carbon emissions due to human activities," Dr. Canadell says. "This will release an estimated 87 to 130 billion tons of carbon by 2100, which is greater than the amount of carbon that would be released by 13 years of global fossil fuel combustion. So maintaining forests as carbon sinks will make a significant contribution to stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations."
the first study of its kind, Dr. Canadell joined an
international team of experts from the
new body of information shows considerable value
in preserving tropical forests such as those in the Amazon and
He says that while tropical deforestation will continue, slowing the amount of clearing will make significant impacts. "If by 2050 we slow deforestation by 50 percent from current levels, with the aim of stopping deforestation when we have 50 percent of the world’s tropical forests remaining, this would save the emission of 50 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere. This 50/50/50 option would avoid the release of the equivalent of six years of global fossil fuel emissions."
Reducing deforestation is just one of a portfolio of mitigation options needed to reduce concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
"Globally, we need a range of actions to reduce the build up of carbon in the atmosphere," Dr. Canadell says. "This study ensures we have a sound scientific basis behind the consideration of deforestation reduction."