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Glob Chang Biol. 2016 Apr;22(4):1336-47. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13153. Epub 2016 Feb 9.

Can carbon emissions from tropical deforestation drop by 50% in 5 years?

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Climate and Land Use Alliance, 235 Montgomery Street, 13th Floor, San Francisco, CA, 94104, USA.
Forests Program, World Resources Institute, 10 G Street NE, Washington, DC, 20002, USA.
The Woods Hole Research Center, 149 Woods Hole Road, Falmouth, MA, 02540, USA.
Transparent World, Rossolimo str, 5/22, Building 1, Moscow, Russia.
Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742, USA.
Núcleo de Altos Estudos Amazônicos, Universidade Federal do Para-UFPA, Av. Perimetral, No. 1, Guama, Belém, Pará, 66075-750, Brazil.
Observatório do Clima, Rua Deputado Lacerda Franco, 144 ap 181, CEP 05418-000, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
Direktorat General of Climate Change, Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, Manggala Wanabhakti 7th block 12th floor, Jl Gatot Subroto, Jakarta, 10270, Indonesia.
Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia, SHIN CA 5, Bloco J2 - Sala 309, Lago Norte, DF 71503-505, Brazil.
Blue Raster, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 210, Arlington, VA, 22201, USA.


Halving carbon emissions from tropical deforestation by 2020 could help bring the international community closer to the agreed goal of <2 degree increase in global average temperature change and is consistent with a target set last year by the governments, corporations, indigenous peoples' organizations and non-governmental organizations that signed the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF). We assemble and refine a robust dataset to establish a 2001-2013 benchmark for average annual carbon emissions from gross tropical deforestation at 2.270 Gt CO2 yr(-1). Brazil did not sign the NYDF, yet from 2001 to 2013, Brazil ranks first for both carbon emissions from gross tropical deforestation and reductions in those emissions - its share of the total declined from a peak of 69% in 2003 to a low of 20% in 2012. Indonesia, an NYDF signatory, is the second highest emitter, peaking in 2012 at 0.362 Gt CO2 yr(-1) before declining to 0.205 Gt CO2 yr(-1) in 2013. The other 14 NYDF tropical country signatories were responsible for a combined average of 0.317 Gt CO2 yr(-1) , while the other 86 tropical country non-signatories were responsible for a combined average of 0.688 Gt CO2 yr(-1). We outline two scenarios for achieving the 50% emission reduction target by 2020, both emphasizing the critical role of Brazil and the need to reverse the trends of increasing carbon emissions from gross tropical deforestation in many other tropical countries that, from 2001 to 2013, have largely offset Brazil's reductions. Achieving the target will therefore be challenging, even though it is in the self-interest of the international community. Conserving rather than cutting down tropical forests requires shifting economic development away from a dependence on natural resource depletion toward recognition of the dependence of human societies on the natural capital that tropical forests represent and the goods and services they provide.


Brazil; Indonesia; New York Declaration on Forests; carbon emissions; deforestation; forests

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