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Forests + Plants

Deforestation and Greenhouse Gas Emissions


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Because trees help absorb greenhouse gases, forest preservation plays an important role in controlling climate change. When forests are destroyed or degraded that harms our ability to control climate change. The problem is primarily concentrated in tropical developing nations. A new report from the Congressional Budget Office says there are three big challenges: building capacity to better document forest absorbtion capacity and its loss; improving governance in countries where the problem is most pronounced; and calibrating policy responses so they’re effective on a global scale. The study is titled “Deforestation and Greenhouse gases.” A related CBO infographic helps tell the story. Excerpts of the infographic follow.

First, the backdrop. Five different categories of energy-related activities account for two-thirds of manmade greenhouse gas emissions globally, according to CBO. Of the remaining one-third, 12 percent comes from destruction of forests for agriculture, primarily in developing tropical nations.


Of the 25 countries producing almost all of manmade global greenhouse gas emissions stemming from destruction or degradation of forests, Brazil and Indonesia together account for more than half. At two to three percent each the next highest ranking nations are Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria. Myanmar, Bolivia and Malaysia.

Thirteen of the 25 countries that contribute the most to forest-based emissions have some capability to measure them. There are different ways of quantifying the loss of GHG absorbtion capacity provided by forests.

There are a number of different policy approaches to better controlling man-made greenhouse gas emission resulting from conversion of forestlands to agriculture. But as with manmade GHGs as a whole a global response is considered far more effective than a piecemeal approach.

The CBO infographic was drawn from information provided by the World Bank, World Resources Institute, Resources For The Future, Climate Advisors, and ITS International.