Scientists and NGOs: Deforestation
and Degradation Responsible for Approximately 15 Percent
of Global Warming Emissions
Nov 06, 2009 - Union of Concerned
Fuel Emissions Rise, Deforestation Makes up Smaller
Percent, Still Significant Problem
BARCELONA, SPAIN (November 6, 2009) — Scientists
and non-governmental organizations at the United Nations
climate negotiations commented today on the percentage
of global warming emissions that is due to tropical
deforestation, in light of a new analysis published
earlier this week in Nature Geoscience. The group,
which included most of the leading experts on deforestation
emissions, released the following statement:
'The new paper, other papers and Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change reports published in the last
few years lead us to conclude that the percentage
of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from deforestation
and forest degradation is less than the commonly used
figure of 'about 20 percent.' The best current estimate
would be about 15 percent if peat degradation is included.
Given the uncertainties involved one can not rely
on estimates to the nearest 1 percent.
The change in the estimate is due to several factors,
including increases in fossil fuel emissions, as well
as revision of the estimates of deforestation emissions,
due to new data and scientific analyses. The change
is not due to a decrease in deforestation since the
1990s, and in fact the analyses agree that global
deforestation in the early 2000s has been similar
to that in the 1990s. So, this new estimate is not
a sign of progress.
This figure includes deforestation, forest degradation,
and peat emissions from deforestation and degradation
(including later decomposition and fires in peat from
previously deforested areas).
These changes and the new paper are typical of how
science advances, and reflect our improved ability
to measure the emissions due to deforestation. They
reinforce the point that reducing emissions from tropical
deforestation is critical to slowing global warming.
These emissions are comparable to the emissions of
all of the European Union, and are greater than those
of all cars, trucks, planes, ships and trains worldwide.
Reducing tropical forest emissions remains a relatively
cost-effective option to reduce emissions. We would
highlight some important lines from the new paper:
'…reducing fossil fuel emissions remains the key
element for stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
Nevertheless, efforts to mitigate emissions from tropical
forests and peatlands, and maintain existing terrestrial
carbon stocks, remain critical….'"
The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C.