CO2 emissions from forest loss
Deforestation is the second largest anthropogenic source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, after fossil fuel combustion. Following a budget reanalysis, the contribution from deforestation is revised downwards, but tropical peatlands emerge as a notable carbon dioxide source.
Contribution deforestation in global CO2 emissions overestimated
A group of researchers from the VU University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and a number of American institutions has calculated that the contribution of deforestation to global anthropogenic CO2 emissions is substantially lower than generally assumed. They also calculated that CO2 emissions from peatlands in the tropics contribute significantly to global CO2 emissions.
The common assumption was that tropical deforestation contributes about twenty percent to total global CO2 emissions. Following a reanalysis, the commentary article concludes that the contribution of deforestation is now much lower, not only because the CO2 emissions from deforestation is now lower than previously estimated, but also because the CO2 emissions from fossil fuels has grown rapidly in recent years, thereby also declining the relative contribution of deforestation. Although the uncertainty in the new figures remains large, the researchers conclude that at present deforestation is not responsible for about 20%, but 'only' 12% of the total global CO2 emissions. In addition, emissions from peatlands in the tropics are responsible for 3 percent of global CO2 emissions.
In the negotiations for a new climate treaty for global greenhouse emissions reduction in succession to the Kyoto Protocol, reducing deforestation also plays an important role. This is because it is one of the more cost-effective methods to reduce CO2 emissions and because of many other positive effects. For dozens of developing countries, deforestation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) is therefore an important part in the negotiations to reach a climate agreement in Copenhagen in December to come. With financial support from the industrial countries, deforestation in developing countries could be reduced.
Peatland emissions more important than thought
In their commentary the researchers state that a new climate treaty will be more effective when the emissions from peatlands are included as an reduction option. When emissions from peatlands are taken into account, the total contribution of deforestation and peatlands of about 15% is still a substantial contribution to global CO2 emissions and therefore remains a significant opportunity for the global CO2 emission reduction.
|Author(s)||G. R. van der Werf, D. C. Morton, R. S. DeFries, J. G. J. Olivier, P. S. Kasibhatla, R. B. Jackson, G. J. Collatz and J. T. Randerson|
|Reference||Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency|