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Curbing deforestation offers big global warming gains

AFP

Tropical developing nations can help drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing their rate of deforestation, say climate scientists.

Curbing deforestation offers big global warming gains.

Reducing tropical deforestation by 50 per cent over the next century, would help prevent 500 billion tonnes of carbon from going into the atmosphere every year.

Credit: AFP

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WASHINGTON: Tropical developing nations can help drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing their rate of deforestation, say climate scientists.

Reducing tropical deforestation by 50 per cent over the next century, would help prevent 500 billion tonnes of carbon from going into the atmosphere every year, the researchers said in a policy article published in the U.S journal Science.

Such a reduction in emissions would account for 12 per cent of the total reductions targeted by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the researchers said.

At its current rate, tropical deforestation releases annually 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere that would otherwise be absorbed by trees, making it a major contributor to global warming, they said.

Big reduction, low cost

The policy article was aimed to give scientific and technological backing to a two-year initiative launched by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, after a group of developing nations asked for a strategy to make forest preservation politically and economically attractive.

The researchers said the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (RED) initiative faces political challenges as many developing countries consider their tropical forests as a key economic resource.

But low-cost measures could be taken to convince developing nations to reduce deforestation, including, for example, by helping them evaluate the use of forests to focus clearing only in areas with high agricultural value, they said.

"It will require political will and sound economic strategy to make the RED initiative work," said Christopher Field, director of the Global Ecology Department at the Carnegie Institution in the Washington D.C., a non-profit, scientific research organization.

"But the initiative provides a big reduction in emissions at low cost," he said.