Brazil has taken an important and necessary step in setting its first goals for reducing rainforest destruction in the Amazon, but the planned 70 percent decrease over 10 years is too conservative and fails to assert the global leadership required.
While the intention is welcome, the government�s deforestation reduction plan announced Monday would result in continuing Amazon deforestation of more than 5,500 square kilometers a year after 2017, along with the resulting carbon dioxide emissions, habitat destruction and loss of vital resources for local populations.
Conservation International (CI) and partners have proposed targets to halt deforestation in the Amazon by 2015 while allowing continued traditional use of the forest. The government also should expand its focus to other regions where widespread deforestation is causing huge emissions of greenhouse gases, such as the Cerrado savannah.
�Brazil calls for the world�s industrial powers to lead the way in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, but the timid goals announced by the government undermine its ability to exert real influence,� said Jose Maria da Silva, CI Vice President who heads the South America Field Division. �With only two years of mandate ahead, President Lula and Minister Minc missed a great opportunity to assert global leadership in climate change negotiations. The world is ready to respond to true leadership, as evidenced by the recent agreement in California between three U.S. governors and six Brazilian and Indonesian leaders on reducing deforestation.�
Tropical deforestation causes at least 20 percent* of global carbon dioxide emissions � more than all the world�s cars, trucks and airplanes combined. Brazil is one of the world�s four largest emitters of greenhouse gases because of the huge amounts of carbon dioxide released by the burning and clearing of Amazon jungle and other areas.
At the recent Governors� Global Summit on Climate Change, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed memorandums of understanding with governors from four of the major Brazilian Amazonian states (Amazonas, Par�, Amap� and Mato Grosso) and two Indonesian provinces (Papua and Aceh) to create carbon credits for verifiable activities that reduce emissions from deforestation. The goal is for policymakers to allow these credits to be used within compliance mechanisms under U.S. legislation and international treaties. Through the MOUs, the Brazilian states and Indonesian provinces, and particularly the indigenous peoples and local communities that depend on these natural resources, will be able to benefit economically while protecting forests to combat climate change.
The complexity and enormity of the climate change challenge requires all possible solutions to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions, including new clean energy sources, innovative technologies, greater efficiency, and conserving tropical forests. Brazil is correct in demanding that the United States and other industrial powers lead the way in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, emerging and developing nations also must contribute all they can to a global effort to prevent catastrophic impacts from climate change.
*CI regularly reassesses our assumptions and conclusions to ensure they are consistent with the most current and reliable data sources available so that we are delivering accurate and up-to-date information. Accordingly, in December 2009, we updated our estimates related to global greenhouse gas emissions to reflect the best and most current science. We now estimate that 16% of greenhouse gas emissions result from deforestation and logging.
See our deforestation, logging and GHG emissions factsheet (PDF - 2.7KB) for details and data sources.