deforestation and global warming

The UN says the world must cut carbon emissions by some 40-70 per cent by 2050. This target cannot be reached if the current rate of deforestation does not dramatically slow. But any action to protect the world’s forests creates a dilemma: how can these vital areas be protected without unfairly holding back the economic growth of developing countries?

An important part of the solution is to enable rich-nation emitters to pay developing countries to maintain their forests. Compared to other carbon-reducing policies – such as investment in renewables – this is a very cheap option. ….

[But,] there is a constant risk that the protection of one part of a forest merely leads to another part of it being chopped down instead. Even if the government is fully committed to a scheme, its governance systems may not be able to protect an area from illegal destruction. International bodies therefore need to put in place agreed systems to certify that forests have both truly been protected and that the schemes are additional to plans that existed without the extra funding.

The role of forests in cutting carbon“, Financial Times, editorial, 26 May 2014.

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