|Washington Post||February 11 2016||
…. Of all the components of the recent Paris accord on climate change, the one that probably got the least attention but could have the most immediate potential involves the world’s forests. ….
In a section some hailed as historic, the document endorsed a United Nations mechanism for wealthier nations to pay developing countries like Brazil for reducing deforestation. …After years of progress, deforestation rates have increased recently in Brazil, and deforestation continues apace across much of the global tropics. The economic forces of agriculture and trade remain too strong to resist.
Calls for saving rainforests have a long history, but including forests as a core part of the global climate solution is “very very recent,” said Naoko Ishii, CEO of the Global Environment Facility, an international body that invests in restoring tropical forests. “Without taking care of the forests, it’s going to be just impossible to achieve the Paris agreement.”…. In fact, recent estimates suggest as much as a third of climate emissions could be offset by stopping deforestation and restoring forest land — and that this solution could be achieved much faster than cuts to fossil fuels.
Forests are a crucial “carbon sink,” living engines for absorbing and storing carbon. Tropical forests store the most carbon of all, and no tropical forest on Earth is bigger than the Amazon. It accounts for about half of all the carbon these forests store. But the Brazilian Amazon has lost nearly a fifth of its forest cover already — and the forest left behind also suffers because it is more fragmented and less continuous….
Net greenhouse gas emissions due to tropical deforestation and forest degradation are about 8 to 15 percent of the global total, which doesn’t sound like that much. But a recent study in Nature Climate Change found that stopping deforestation could nonetheless be a huge piece of the climate solution. That’s because if tropical deforestation stopped, not only would those emissions go away, but on top of that, forests would start stowing away a significant part of the carbon from our fossil fuel emissions.
“One could reduce total CO2 emissions by about 30 percent, just working in the land sector,” said Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center. “And that’s a lot.”.. Moreover, stopping deforestation could buy precious time to ratchet down fossil fuel emissions….