Forests are the “largest terrestrial store of carbon” according to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), and deforestation is responsible for an estimated 20 percent of current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Every year, 32 million acres of forest are lost, equivalent to 36 football fields a minute. Globally forests contain an estimated 283 gigatons of carbon.
A WWF policy paper on deforestation released this year lists recommendations for stopping deforestation. The first priority needs to be “immediate and substantial capacity building in key host countries,” according to the policy paper. Any market-based offset program should include a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program. Another priority is “substantial funding for capacity building and pilot programs” this year.
Stopping forest loss and degradation is the most cost effective method of mitigating climate change, according to a Swedish report, Gold in Green Forests, issued by WWF-Sweden. “Sweden should follow the examples set by its northern neighbors in developing systems to halt deforestation,” said WWF CEO General Lasse Gustavsson.. “One Swedish krona to stem deforestation results in the same emissions reductions as five kronor for the controversial carbon capture and storage technique.”
“Time is passing and the possibility of reaping the positive climate effects that a stop in the loss of forests entails is decreasing rapidly. Complex social, economic and ecological are involved which is why a global cooperation for REDD must be carefully prepared,” said Stefan Henningsson, Climate Director, WWF Sweden.
The Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests, a bipartisan commission, released a report last week which called for $1 billion before 2012 to slow deforestation in developing countries, and $14 billion annually by 2020. Private sources would supply at least two-thirds of the funding.
“Slowing deforestation is the most cost-effective choice of all the carbon emissions curbing actions,” said John Podesta, the commission’s co-chair. “We need to protect our forests. Our common future depends on it.”
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