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As part of its initiative on Tropical Forests for Climate and Development, the Center for Global Development is producing a book entitled Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change. Co-authored by senior fellow Frances Seymour and research fellow Jonah Busch, the book will make the case that tropical forests are essential for both climate stability and sustainable development, that now is the time for action on tropical forests, and that payment-for-performance finance for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) represents a course of action with great potential for success.
Why Forests? Why Now? will draw on original research, synthetic reviews, and national case studies supported by commissioned background papers and CGD’s own research. The content will cover the science, economics, and politics of forest conservation and finance to underscore the urgency, affordability, and feasibility of scaling up funding for reducing deforestation, particularly through performance-based approaches.
The Science – deforestation as a source of climate emissions, development benefits provided by intact forests, and advances in forest monitoring technologies;
The Economics – the affordability of mitigating forest-based emissions compared to other options, contributions of forests to developing economies, and what is known about what drives deforestation and how to stop it.
The Politics – the politics of international cooperation to reduce tropical deforestation, with a particular focus on constituencies for performance-based finance in relevant policy arenas at the international level, within selected rich countries, and within forest countries.
The publication of Why Forests? Why Now? is set for December 2016. This research supports the activities of a CGD Working Group to identify practical ways to accelerate performance-based finance for tropical forests.
Click here for a list of all papers in the series.
WASHINGTON – The Center for Global Development (CGD) released a working paper today showing that tropical forests – whose preservation is thought to be one of the quickest, most affordable way to mitigate climate change – will disappear faster than we thought.
If the world doesn’t act:
By 2050, an area of tropical forest the size of India will have been cleared – 289 million hectares, or roughly one-third the size of the United States.
By 2050, we’ll burn through one-sixth of our remaining carbon budget – the amount of emissions we have left in order to keep global temperature rise below 2° Celsius, thus avoiding dangerous climate change, according to the UN.
Using the most sophisticated satellite imagery available to study tropical forest data from more than 100 countries, CGD research fellow and environmental economist Jonah Busch and research associate Jens Engelmann have projected a pattern of deforestation more dire than previous research suggested. Their findings show emissions from deforestation will climb steadily through the 2020s and 2030s before accelerating around 2040.
Much of the devastation the research predicts can be avoided if the world puts a price on carbon, either through taxes, payments for emissions reductions or a combination of both.
VIDEO: Jonah Busch Explains Carbon Pricing
Three ways the world can act:
International carbon payments. If rich countries pay tropical countries for keeping forests standing, rich countries fight climate change more cheaply while tropical countries receive a new, green source of income that could be used to alleviate poverty.
Carbon prices. If developing countries introduce a price of $20-per-ton of carbon dioxide on deforestation, emissions would drop by more than 20 percent by 2020; a $50-per-ton price would cut emissions nearly in half by 2050.
Restrictive policies on deforestation. If developing countries introduce restrictive policies on deforestation backed by satellite monitoring and law enforcement, they can have a drastic impact on emissions (Brazil imposed restrictions on deforestation in the Amazon, and as a result, deforestation fell by 80% within a decade while soy and cattle production rose).
“Conserving tropical forests is a bargain,” explained Busch. “Reducing emissions from tropical deforestation costs about a fifth as much as reducing emissions in the European Union.”
"The Paris climate agreement needs to provide funding and other resources to stop tropical deforestation,” said Engelmann. “A climate agreement without robust action on forests will simply not be enough."
About the Center for Global Development
CGD works to reduce global poverty and inequality through rigorous research and active engagement with the policy community to make the world a more prosperous, just, and safe place for all people. As an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit think tank, focused on improving the policies and practices of the rich and powerful, the Center combines world-class scholarly research with policy analysis and innovative outreach and communications to turn ideas into action. Learn more at www.cgdev.org.
An area of tropical forest the size of India will be deforested in the next 35 years, burning through more than one-sixth of the remaining carbon that can be emitted if global warming is to be kept below 2 degrees Celsius (the “planetary carbon budget”), but many of these emissions could be cheaply avoided by putting a price on carbon.
Join us for a Tweet chat with @jonahbusch Thursday, August 27, at 10 a.m. EDT. #CGDchat
The story of climate change and development can be told in three simple pie charts: Developing countries are hurt most by climate change (chart #1). Historically, developed countries were most responsible for climate change (chart #2). But now, developing countries are most responsible for climate change (chart #3). That shift may be what leads to a successful climate agreement this December in Paris.
Back in January, #1 on the list of 2015 New Year’s Conservation Resolutions brought to you by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo was to “Purchase products made with sustainable palm oil.” Apparently the President’s Global Development Council (GDC) has taken this advice to heart.