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Researcher Says Global Forest Destruction is Overestimated

amazonHoping to affect global climate negotiations, a Brazilian researcher says that deforestation results in less than the 20 percent of global carbon emissions, which is a figure being widely used before the Copenhagen climate talks in December.

Gilberto Camara, the director of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, which measures Amazon deforestation, told Reuters that the 20 percent figure was based on poor science, and rich countries did not question it because it puts more pressure on developing countries to curb greenhouse gases.

He calculates that the figure is more likely 10 percent for total emissions caused by forest destruction, based on the Amazon accounting for about 25 percent of deforestation globally.

Camara said in the article that the 20 percent figure used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was based on calculations from sampling of forests by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

A lower estimate for carbon emissions from deforestation would have an impact on the Copenhagen talks, reports Reuters, where preserving forests is a priority in the climate treaty draft. The new treaty could introduce forest credit trade to cut developing nation deforestation, although environmental group Greenpeace says awarding credits to countries that reduce deforestation could worsen global warming and result in plunging carbon prices.

Although Camara said in the article that he believes Brazil’s deforestation rates remain too high, recent calculations by his institute using detailed satellite data showed clearing of the world’s biggest forest accounted for about 2.5 percent of annual global carbon emissions. He also said the satellite shows that new deforested areas are about half the size they were in the previous year, when total deforestation was 12,000 square kilometers.

Yet about four times as much Brazilian rainforest was cleared in June than in May, according to AFP.

In recent months, Greenpeace has called for shoe manufacturers, including Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Timberland and Clarks, to cease sourcing shoe leather from areas of the Amazon that have been converted from rainforest to cattle land. Nike and Timberland, among others, have pledged to do so.

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One thought on “Researcher Says Global Forest Destruction is Overestimated

  1. I hope you realize that deforestation in Brazil is almost always much higher in June than in May and that the AFP report was written by someone who likely knows nothing about Amazon deforestation.

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